Ready Set Go
Whatever the weather, it's always the same story when it comes to dog walking. A dog lives for that moment he or she senses an excursion is in the offing. It's so rewarding to see the amount of excitement that a dog summons up every single time this happens. It doesn't matter if it's the fifteenth time in the day, the tail wagging and expectant pacing remains the same. Tiredness is never a factor. Energy and excitement always prevails.
Expecting Your State
I go for walks with my partner's dog, Timo. I have no idea why he gets so excited about it. I almost always take him on exactly the same route and he must have seen this bit of Kerry coastline, beautiful though it is, at least a thousand times. The great thing about it is that no matter how down we're feeling or how reluctant we are to get on the anoraks and walking boots, Timo's delight is overwhelming.
As soon as we step outside the door, he's excited and ready for action. This is a habit he's developed over years of experience. He has nothing but positive expectations. He never expects to be let down, disappointed or bored and he never is. It's just not a possibility as far as he's concerned.
Take this for an example of dedication to the duty of having fun. Timo hates water. It took his real human hours of dedicated practice to encourage him to get in the sea. After venturing further and further in the pursuit of various sticks and stones (yes, stones that he dives to retrieve) he now greets the same water with excited yelps and bursts of energy.
His enthusiasm for digging for Australia on the beach has no ends. It just goes to show what positive expectations and developing the right habits can do for us. With practice, repetition and some good training, just like everything else, it gets easier.
Like a Dog with a Bone
Timo's approach to his walks is a great example. Let’s face it, he never sees it as a chore so I can capitalize on that enthusiasm and get excited about it too. Our walks become a partnership where we try out new things. How far can he go before I call him back? How long can we sit in stillness on the beach? What commands will he respond to? What games can we play? Suddenly the duty to take him for a walk turns into a partnership and a great game for both of us or even all three of us if I'm with my partner.
We've spent plenty of time standing about 500 metres apart and calling him backwards and forwards between us. We've tried throwing the ball for him to chase but he doesn't really get that. Ah well, nobody's perfect.
The important thing is it’s not just Timo that’s benefitting from the walk. By developing rituals and making the process into something we all enjoy it's become a pleasurable and bonding experience. For me it's even a rare treat as I don't get to Kerry as often as I would like.
And when it's all over Timo will sit in the garden and start crying for his next walk because he can sense Walter's presence, his other best friend who walks with him.
Happy Out - Happy In
Then again, if the walk's been done and Timo senses that it's time to rest, he'll settle down content with a few strokes. He's not complaining all the time. He accepts the situation, whatever it happens to be at that moment. He's a great teacher, a great pal and the satisfaction his joy and obedience brings to everyone is a great gift in itself. It busts stress, it helps me work out problems in my head, it's exercise and it helps me relax. It's heaven!