Are you able to prepare to take your dog for a walk without him or her knowing what you are up to? Is your dog ever surprised when you show up with leash in hand? Why do I ask such seemingly silly questions? I ask because both of my dogs seem to possess some sort of canine walk-related mental telepathy. No matter how sly I am- I can distract them with their favorite chew toys, I can grab the leashes while they are barking at the UPS truck, and I can be moving clothes from the washing machine to the dryer. It doesn’t matter. They always know when the mere thought of taking them for a walk has crossed my mind. Spell rather than say the word “walk”? Forget it, my dogs could win spelling bees. Don my sneakers while pretending to go to the bathroom or hide their leashes in the garbage can? Not a chance! They know exactly what I’m up to! Do such crazy things go in your household?
Here’s a typical “prewalk” scenario with my two little mutts, Nellie and Quinn. I’m at the computer, fingers flying with a mug of coffee close at hand and my two adorable pupsters sound asleep at my feet. I take a quick peek out the window, sense it’s getting hot, and silently ponder, “Hmmm, perhaps I should get the dogs out sooner rather than later.” Within a millisecond, Quinn’s chin is resting on my knee. How does he know? Could he feel the flutter of my eyelashes as I looked out the window? Did he sense that my coffee and/or my ability to write had turned cold? Does my body produce some sort of yet-to-be-discovered “dog walking pheromone”?
With nothing more than Quinn’s chin on my knee, I remain in complete control of the situation. I can either continue my work by completely avoiding eye contact with my little doe-eyed darling (and I will feel like an inhumane lout for the remainder of the day) or I can meet Quinn’s gaze. At this point, going eyeball to eyeball with Quinn is an act tantamount to Barbara Woodhouse yodeling “Walkies!!” (She and Julia Child must have been related, don’t you think?).
Quinn begins scrambling to and from the door while Nellie barks orders at me. Her terrier-speak can be interpreted as, “Get your shoes on for crying out loud!” “Forget the poop bags!” and “The laundry can wait!” I can slow down all of this hustle bustle with a firm command of “Wait”, but their tremoring muscles and joyous expressions would give one the impression that my two little darlings were about to be turned loose into a field of sedated gophers. In their happy little worlds, life simply does not get any better!
Admittedly, this anticipatory joy tickles me- otherwise I would do more to “tame the beasts”. And their uncanny knack for reading my mind truly intrigues me. What are your thoughts and theories about this? What goes on in your household when your dogs are in their “pre-walk mode?”
Speaking of dog walking, I want you to know about a terrific book that just hit the market. It is called Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound: How You and Your Dog Can Lose Weight, Stay Fit, and Have Fun Together (New Directions in the Human-Animal Bond Series). Author, Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board certified veterinary surgeon and a friend and colleague (we veterinarians who like to write have a definite affinity for one another!). He and coauthor Rebecca Johnson, a human nurse and expert in the field of human weight loss (and she happens to be one heck of a nice person), clearly recognize that many canine health issues are exacerbated by obesity. Their book successfully inspires better health for dogs and the people who love them. Their recommendations result in loss of body fat, improved fitness, and enhancement of what we all cherish- the human animal bond. Dr. Zeltzman says that writing a book on canine weight management was a natural response to his frustration of dealing with so many patients who probably would not have needed his services had they been at an ideal body weight.
Let me hear what you think about Walk a Hound Lose a Pound and I can’t wait to hear if and how you manage to surprise your dog with a walk.
Best wishes for good health,
Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life
Recipient, Leo K. Bustad Companion Animal Veterinarian of the Year Award
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Recipient, AKC Club Publication Excellence Award
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Please visit http://www.speakingforspot.com to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at Amazon.com, local bookstores, and your favorite online book seller.