Dog Walking: A New Religion
Monday, April 9, 2012 • 5:18pm
Dog walking can be a religious experience. It’s got all the elements—dogma, movements and prophets.
Each morning I harness my dogma, pick up its daily movement and profit from burning calories while I walk.
My friend Nina and her dog Champ are devoted followers and often join me when I walk my dog Shadow. For Champ and Shadow, their dogma involves christening every mailbox we pass.
I realize it’s their job to mark their territory, but together these mutts stake more claims than the Lewis and Clark Expedition. They’re never satisfied with their conquest and each day re-mark the same mailboxes. It’s gotten so bad, one thirty-minute walk recently exceeded three and a half hours.
Adding further delay, other walkers disrupt our walks by stopping to say things like, “What cute dogs! What are their names? Mind if we pet them?” Then what starts as an innocent scratch under the chin escalates to a back rub and the next thing you know my dog is flat on her back getting the kind of full body massage I have to shell out ninety-five bucks an hour for.
I know they mean well. Most people would simply call it being friendly. I call it an invasion of my dog’s personal space. After all, I don’t say to the woman pushing the stroller, “What an adorable baby. What’s her name? Mind if I nurse her?”
What I’d really like to tell them is, “Sure, my dog would love to accept a free Shiatsu massage, but unless you’re also going to rub me down like a side of seasoned pork, let’s just stick to the “walk and wave” so I can get home before the sun sets.
In an effort to speed up our walks I adopted a new pet-a-gogical dogma. I gave Shadow a new nickname and taught both dogs strategic claim staking.
Now when we run into others who stop to ask our dog’s names I simply point to my dog and say, “This one is named Rabies.” Before they high tail down the street I add, “and Champ is the one peeing on your leg.”
When Jersey Girl Lisa Tognola traded her job as freelance writer for that of full-time mother of three children, it didn’t take long before her writing was reduced to grocery lists, notes to school nurses excusing her kids from gym class, and e-mails to her husband reminding him to call his mother. Daily life as a suburban mom was fraught with challenges and unexpected dangers like adult dinner groups, town hall meetings and home shopping parties. Rather than fight her fate, this mom embraced it by unleashing her inner columnist. Her weekly column, Main Street Musings, reflects on life in the suburbs---the good, the bad, and the ugly. Visit her blog http://mainstreetmusingsblog.com/. Follow her on twitter @lisatognola