In the spring, I see dogs and their people everywhere I go. It’s like puppy rush hour on the D.C. Beltway.
But now that it’s cold and grey? Not so much.
There are dogs in my neighborhood I haven’t seen in months. Why is it that so many people don’t walk the dog in winter? After all, there are so many great reasons to walk all year long.
Reasons to Walk Your Dog
Some reasons are good for the dog. Some are good for you. And some are just plain silly. But they’re all worth considering.
Stimulate your dog’s brain.
Dogs can’t do crossword puzzles or sudoku. They can’t read thick Russian novels. But they can sniff and solve problems. And they’re more likely to do that on a walk than they are sitting on your couch.
Stimulate your brain.
C’mon. We both know you’re not spending your day solving puzzles and reading Russian novels. So step away from the cat memes on Facebook and do some sniffing of your own.
Look at Christmas lights.
Oooh, sparkly. It’s dark. It’s gloomy. But at least there are pretty lights on the trees. Go look at them.
Socialize your dog.
If your dog is a puppy, the best thing you can do is gently expose him to all kinds of new things so he learns to be confident and unafraid. But even an adult dog can learn to accept inflatable snowmen and animatronic reindeer with a few treats. And a dog that takes new things in stride is an easy dog to live with.
Spy on your neighbors.
My mom told me that when she was young, her grandmother used to take her and her sisters for walks around the town at dusk. Y’know, after people turn the lights on but before they close the curtains. Apparently, Nana knew all the town scandals.
Just imagine if she had a dog instead of three granddaughters.
Keep the cats in their places.
With all the dogs indoors, the cats take over the neighborhood. They’re on every porch, under every shrub, and leaving their cute little footprints in the snow everywhere I look.
We have to keep things somewhat equal before they take over the world.
A walk around the block isn’t much of a physical workout for a young, healthy dog. But throw in some running, a few hills, and maybe an agility trick or two and you have yourself a workout.
Prevent seasonal depression.
Even on a cloudy day, you’ll get more sun exposure outdoors than in your house. I try to get maximum sun exposure by raising my face to the sky as I walk.
I can’t tell if it works. I’m too depressed from tripping because I can’t see where I’m going. But Honey feels great.
Gain a smug feeling of superiority.
How do I feel smug? Let me count the ways.
When you’re walking while everyone else is driving, or worse, hibernating indoors, you’ll feel that awesome glow of self-righteousness. Toss in the disdainful remarks you can make about your neighbors who didn’t shovel their sidewalks and you’re good for the day.
Have a few hours of peace and quiet.
After your dog has sniffed out every squirrel, checked his p-mail, and strolled up and down every hill in your neighborhood, he’ll be ready for a nap.
Late morning, after I’ve brought Honey and Ginny in from their walks, is the quietest (and most productive) part of my day.
Ginny, our foster dog, is recovering from hip surgery after an accident. At her recent vet check up, I was told to work on building up her muscle mass.
Honey is doing her part by always being ready for a game of bitey face. But there’s nothing like a long, slow walk to build muscles. Add in those hills I was talking about earlier and you’re improving the range of motion too.
Keep your backyard from becoming one massive poopsicle.
I don’t even want to think of what my neighbors’ yards will look like in the spring after an entire winter of not walking their dogs. Ugh.
Because if they’re not walking their dogs, I’m sure they’re not rushing outside in the cold to scoop the poop either.
Hang out with the cool kids.
Once when I was riding my bike on a particularly cold day, a young guy in a balaclava pedaled up beside me at a stoplight and gave me a fist bump.
Those of us who walk our dogs in the cold and dark need to start a club. Because we are the cool kids. Literally.
Honey loves the snow. She can’t stop play bowing and plowing the fluffy stuff up with her nose.
Even if you don’t have snow, winter has its own special beauty. So get out and enjoy spending time with your dog.
Their lives with us are all too short. And no one ever said at the passing of their dog, “I wish I had spent more time on Facebook while my dog slept in the other room.”
Go. Walk your dog. Today.
Your Turn: Do you have a favorite reason to walk your dog?