I received an informative response from a reader last week. It concerned teens getting exercise by taking care of companion animals. The 4-H Canine Connection dog club encourages kids to stay fit doing activities with their dogs. What a great idea not only from an exercise perspective but also from a get away from the TV, computer and video game perspective. Also, caring for an animal helps develop responsibility and discipline. More places are being established for dogs and their owners to go and exercise. I suggest that you search out those opportunities in your community through your local vet, pet store or through the local extension office.
I have to tell you about the first timed I tried to walk my little Pekingese. Whissie was about 8 months old and spoiled beyond belief. On a little outing last summer, I decided to give Whis a walk. Whissie is built low to the ground and, other than a mad dash to the food bowl, doesn’t move around a lot. It was hot that evening and after we walked about 50 yards, Whissie lay down in the street and looked up at me with that look that said, “Are you kidding me?” So for the rest of the “walk,” I walked and he enjoyed a ride. Of course, while too tired to walk, he was not too tired to lick everybody who stopped us to visit. I walked, he rode. I think that our animals are actually smarter than we are sometimes.
Despite my failures as a dog exerciser, getting you and your dog involved in an organized program such as Canine Connections or other programs sounds like a great idea. And after a long day, a nice walk with your dog might help not only your mental health but the disposition of the dog. The bonding between pets and their owners was brought home to all of us as a result of Hurricane Katrina. Many people would not evacuate without their pets. We really underestimate the importance of animals to us humans.
My pup is always waiting by the back gate when I get home ready to spring into action and welcome me home. I just can’t convince him a long walk is in both our best interests.
Tomorrow I want to propose something radical – wellness gifts to teens rather than toys! Think about it!