I love walking dogs. I was taking them to the woods to run and hike and just be dogs, not only because exercise is one of the most essential components of canine health, but its importance is so often overlooked in fostering their mental health. An active dog cooped up is one more likely to develop anxiety, behavioral issues, compulsive disorders, and other conditions that often lead to physical complaints. So, off we would go to run the trails and engage in a little joie de vivre. Happy, healthy dogs!
When the DCR started to enforce the rules of the trail, I transitioned to neighborhood dog walking. At first, I was disappointed that this didn’t really fit as well into the mission of Canis major; on the other hand, I was surprised to find that I actually prefer walking. There is something really relaxing about it — and if I’m feeling that, then surely the dogs are, too, right? OK, sometimes I’m a bit of a drill sergeant in keeping them moving along, reminding them to move those little legs. Other times, though, we just stroll, enjoying one of the local neighborhoods from the sunny side of the street, or stopping in to the café for a hot tea and a biscuit. I try to refrain from talking to them too much while passing others, but I’m sure I have turned a head here and there.
Anyway, I started with a new walking client this week. It’s funny – I had stopped taking one-time clients where I just fill in for their dog walkers, but I found myself saying “sure” into the phone, and hung up a little puzzled at myself. When I went to meet the dog, the woman was surprised to find a note from her regular dog walker saying that she would no longer be walking Olive. Hm. OK, I’d be happy to take her on. Could I walk her only every other week, though, since custody is shared and she is with the ex during the other weeks? No problem.
Just as I was due to start with her, her mom called to tell me that Olive would be going into surgery to remove an obstruction from something that she ingested …for the third time in a year and the second time in as many months (would you be surprised to learn that she’s a lab mix?). We chatted a bit about anxiety and compulsion and threw around some ideas on how to best address her needs in the future; for now, though, could I just help her outside to pee (being careful of her incision), give her her medication, and just sit with her for a bit? She then added that, with all of these medical expenses, her partner relinquished sole custody to her.
I don’t mention Reiki, much. I list it on my consults page, but I don’t really promote it because if holistic modalities are still considered new age nonsense to some minds, Reiki is totally woo woo. So, I like to focus on the medicinal applications of botanical constituents and the biological appropriateness of nutrition. Those with a scientific approach are more receptive to this, and holism can use a little more embracing.
So, I went to get Olive, this morning. The thumpthumpthump of her tail showed that she was happy to see me, and I was happy to see that there was no leakage from the incision, today. We went for a short stroll around the block before returning to her living room, where she laid down on her bed and closed her eyes for a head massage. A moment later, she was laying perfectly still as I found myself doing Reiki on her. Oh, right. Reiki. Fifteen minutes later, I slowly stood up and prepared her pill and lunch. I tried to coerce her up with a treat, but she laid there perfectly content. Actually, I’m good, she seemed to be saying.
And so, in serving the wellness of dogs in my community, I am beginning to see how this dog-walking gig fits in…