Walking with the Dog

The Journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step but then you need to keep walking…and walking… and walking.

Rowena Newton

About a month ago, I started walking the dog along the waterfront a few mornings a week.

While being able to take the dog for a walk is something many take for granted, for me it represented a humungous breakthrough! Having a muscle wasting disease which goes in and out of remission like flicking a switch, going for a walk is no longer something I take for granted. It is often a luxury, something I need to work hard at or indeed, it can also become a fairly risky activity. It would actually be safer for me to jump out of a moving plane as long as I had a parachute attached.

However, every time I read anything related to improving my physical and emotional health, exercise is always top of the list. Being the middle of winter, walking is the best form of exercise for me and our Border Collie Bilbo is only too keen to join me on the journey.

The journey of a thousand miles, begins with one paw print in the sand.

The journey of a thousand miles, begins with one paw print in the sand.

So far we’ve stayed local. We drop the kids off at school and head for the beach which has an excellent new footpath without any of those menacing cracks, which can be very nasty indeed which to the mobility challenged. The footpath monster has jumped out and grabbed my foot with its malevolent grip more than once before and I’m sure it was laughing as I fell crashing against the concrete with blood spurting skywards like a fountain. Footpath monsters are nasty psychopaths who can’t even shed a solitary tear for their innocent and often mobility-challenged prey.

Most people come here for the view. I'm here for the footpath.

Most people come here for the view. I’m here for the footpath.

Walking has really helped lift my mood and help me better deal with my lingering health issues. Not only do I benefit from all that “scientifically-proven to be good for you” stuff like endorphins but I also get out of the house, soak in and explore the view and meet loads of people. I make a point of saying hello to everyone I walk past. This is my personal rule and most other walkers do the same. Most of the time, there’s just a: “Good morning” along with perhaps a comment about the weather: “freezing”, “sunny” nothing much more. Naturally, everybody’s response is different but some people really do respond with a heart-warming smile, which stands out and resonates from the rest. Even though they’ve only said: “Good Morning”, I feel uplifted.

While the majority of people down at the beach are a motley crew of walkers with and without dogs, there’s also a foreign species in our midst…the exercise fanatic. The exercise fanatics jog or even run along in their Lycra skins with a water bottle strapped to some part of their anatomy and almost mandatory headphones over their ears. Of course, they don’t stop to say hello, wave or pat your dog. Rather, they’re pretty much in their own little worlds no doubt listening to music to try to block out the physical torture. Personally, I can’t imagine anyone enjoying jogging although I understand there are plenty of addicts out there. I’m simply not one of them.

A kindred spirit.

A kindred spirit.

However, me being me and being just a little mischievous, I’d like to sneak my own little mantra onto their MP3 players: “Eat the chocolate cake. Come on. I know how much you want it. You’ve been so good. Too good. It won’t hurt to have just a wee little bite. I know how much you want it!!”

Evil Chocolate Cake

Evil Chocolate Cake

Yes! That’s so bad, it’s good. You know, I’d even cast the serpent from the Garden of Eden to do the voice over. He has a proven track record when it comes to temptation. (When I shared this diabolical scheme with my husband, he thought it would also be a hit over the sound system at the local gym as well…Ha! Ha! Ha! Sounds like there’s real market potential for diet sabotage out there.)

Stop it, Ro! Behave yourself. Show a bit of respect.

Anyway, as I said before, due to my muscle disease, I am overjoyed just to be able walk at all. Get out of the house.

Never take that for granted.

As much I protest and claim to deplore exercise, I have noticed a huge mood shift since we’ve been going for our morning walks. Of course, there are the endorphins but we’re meeting people chatting with other dog owners and of course meeting their dogs and giving my post-chemo brain two new names to forget instead of one! We’ve now become part of the dog walking community. I love this because I’m quite a social butterfly but I’m also trying to be productive and get something done. You know how it is. I’m trying to focus on working from home (my writing) and get the house sorted out and organize the kids and often recover from their morning antics (battles over iPads, refusals to eat, eat dressed and wondering how supposedly intelligent children can’t close the front door behind them without at least a reminder…or 10!) This way I can get some exercise. Have a chat and can be sitting at my desk by 9.30 AM.

I feel cold just even looking at the photo. The sky was icy white with barely a shade of grey.

I feel cold just even looking at the photo. The sky was icy white with barely a shade of grey.

A few days ago, I was seriously struggling to get motivated for our walk. The day beforehand, it had been windy, raining and absolutely bleak and freezing. This particular morning, the weather wasn’t looking any better and the entire sky was coloured-in a very pale and chilly shade of grey. To be honest, I was seriously thinking of just going straight home, diving back into bed, switching my electric blanket onto super roast and hibernating for the day. A warm bed on a cold day seemed to extinguish any thoughts of persistence, perseverance or any other motivational rubbish.

However, I heard a small voice somehow whispering to me through the wind telling me to get out there. Saying that even if we only go for a short walk, that would be better than nothing. I wouldn’t be surprised if the dog was exercising his powers of telepathy. Dogs are good at that…especially border collies. They might have been bred to round up sheep, but are just as good at rounding up people.

Looks a bit moody but still good.

Looks a bit moody but still good.

Well, there I was walking the dog along the windswept, frozen beach. Of course, it was like a scene from a Jane Austen novel, except in an Australian context although the sun was valiantly trying to poke its head through the clouds. It was nowhere near as bleak as the previous day, which cheered me up a bit and we got underway.

Then, as John Lennon said:

Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

Further down the beach, we ran into our old friend Sam the Old English Sheepdog who is such a beautiful dog. I always feel like rushing up to him and giving him a huge hug because we used to have an Old English Sheepdog and I still miss him, even though he was a crazy mutt we’d rescued from the pound.

Our son and Rus our Old English Sheepdog back in 2006.

Our son with Rufus, our Old English Sheepdog, back in 2006.

Anyway, it was Sam’s Dad’s birthday and a few dog walkers were all down at the beach drinking champagne and devouring the most lusciously sweet, hugest strawberries I’ve seen in awhile. The next thing I know, it’s 9.00am and there I am drinking champagne and orange juice and feasting on a strawberry with near strangers and being treated like a princess. It absolutely made my day!!! It was the best medicine I’d had in ages.

Hmm…I’d never considered intravenous champagne as a treatment option before but it certainly has appeal. That said, I don’t really drink alcohol and it is the first time I’ve ever had champagne for breakfast.

That’s why it felt so good. For once, Mummy was being naughty and I loved being in time out!

Have you been out exercising at all lately? Perhaps, after Christmas in July, there should be another round of New Year’s resolutions so all our best intentions can get another kick start.

So I’ll keep an eye out for you bright and early in the morning hail, rain or shine and who knows what champagne will be waiting for us just around the corner?!!

xx Ro

Look what I spotted at the beach today...another good incentive for getting out of bed and to keep walking!

Look what I spotted at the beach today…another good incentive for getting out of bed and to keep walking!

2 thoughts on “Walking with the Dog

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