The dogs get about three walks each… for the whole week.
I’m wracked with guilt, but I’ve essentially stopped walking them unless some very specific conditions are met. I feel awful about it, but I’m torn because I’m fairly sure it’s in their best interest.
Let me back up…
There are many loose dogs in our town. They’re everywhere. We see them when we drive around, and we try to catch the ones that are in the road, but the real issue is when we’re out with our dogs.
Both John and I have had run-ins when we’ve been out. One dog was on top of Emmett before I even realized he was coming down the street. Thankfully that happened in front of our driveway. John heard the commotion and ran out to help me.
Another – a chihuahua – charges us every time we pass his house. One morning a guy ran after a little dog baring down on Cooper with an, “I saw you coming and knew this would happen.” Again, John and I were walking together, so he kept going with Coop while I intercepted the oncoming dog. Another (remember Ozzie?) appears in our yard every few days. One morning we were running all three. John was up ahead, and he stopped and turned suddenly. There were two dogs running loose down the middle of the road. It took us ages to get home because we kept having to about-face and try another street to avoid the dogs.
And then there was this weekend. I was out with Lucas when a spaniel a block up the street tore out of his front door past his bathrobe-clad person collecting the newspaper. A loose dog running up to Lucas is my biggest fear with him. We’ve worked so hard on reactivity, but this exact scenario causes him to flip out (and, quite honestly, I can’t blame him).
So, I about-faced, stuck the can of cheese in Lukey’s mouth, and hauled away.
I glanced back to see if the dog was hot on our tails or if we were safe.
What I saw?
The man smacking the crap out of the dog in the middle of the road, then throwing him by the collar through their front door.
I turned home – I could feel the tears about to break through and I didn’t want to lose focus. We started down the next block to come face-to-face with a loose hound dog. I turned again and we dashed home. By the time we got inside, I was shaking and crying.
We’ve tested different times of day and keep hitting roadblocks. There are few dogs out at 5 am, but it’s also dark (there are zero streetlights) and John’s been going to work at 4:30 anyway. Same thing at night: It’s pitch black by 5 pm, and John isn’t usually home yet. I don’t want to walk in the dark because I want to have a full visual field to plot an escape in the case of an oncoming dog. Plus, there are no sidewalks anywhere, so we’re already walking in the street, which I hate.
Also, I feel wimpy, but at this point I don’t feel comfortable walking them unless I know John is a phone call/few block sprint away in case of emergency or, better yet, if we go together. So that further limits the hours of the day.
So, to walk the dogs, I’m aiming for: Daylight + John home or walking with me. Hence, the dogs are only getting about three walks a week.
I looked into parks. There are none. Literally. None. The only “public spaces” are softball fields, a Veteran’s memorial (a strip of sidewalk with a statue), and a walking track where they don’t allow dogs. There are two wildlife preserves within driving distance, but they don’t allow dogs either. The town formed a committee to address this issue, and they approved funding… for a skateboard park. I’m still looking into some sort of idea here. Maybe there’s a remote bayou we could take them to run on weekends or something? Or, like, walk laps around the mall parking lot? I have no idea.
Regardless, that’s where we are. I feel horrible that they’re not getting walks. We exercise them at home, play in the yard, run the stairs, train, do puzzles, and so on, but they’re not getting out of the house. They’re not getting that real-world experience that Lucas and Cooper, in particular, need.
So there you have it. My sin. I don’t walk my dogs.