Thursday, July 22, 2010

Exercising Options

Baxter is a walker. He will go anywhere with gusto, smelling every tree, checking every shrub for birds (or cats) and maintaining a lanky lope that I can barely keep up with. Kirby, on the other hand, only likes to walk within a five block radius of our house, and only on days when it isn't too hot or too cold or too noisy or too windy. So every time I try to take both dogs on a longer walk, I end up with Baxter pulling me forward and Kirby pulling me backward (until I turn toward home when the whole thing reverses).

I've been nursing a shoulder injury of late -- dog-related. I'll save it for another time. In short: it's really hard for me to manage this "push-me-pull-you" style of dog walking. So I've started exercising the dogs separately, and they love it.

One of Kirby's favorite things to do, of late, is fetch a tennis ball. He sprints with joy, grabs the ball with laser accuracy (most of the time) and returns it to my feet and stares at it with the intensity of a collie until I throw it again (his DNA is showing through). Kirby will repeat this until he wears himself out or it gets too hot. He then either lays down in the shade or, as he did this morning, jauntily carries the ball back to the door of our house. Perfect.

I open the door, Kirby runs in and Baxter comes out with me for a longer walk, which he absolutely loves. I think not having the little guy under foot suits him better. He doesn't pull on the leash as much as he used to when he was younger. I think he's just content to keep a brisk walk going with an occasional detour to get a whiff of something that's just inches beyond the reach of his leash.

Everyone is happy with this set-up. And it keeps us all a wee bit fitter.