Wednesday, October 27th, 2021

P Shopper Columns


Riggs knows we're going for a walk well before I tell him.  If he sees me putting on my hat or socks, setting out my shoes, putting treats in my pockets, or getting out plastic bags, he dances around me with wide, expectant eyes. One beautiful fall afternoon, I stood in the foyer, putting on Riggs’ harness.  He was practically hyperventilating with excitement!  I'm sorry I don't walk you very much anymore, buddy,” I murmured with a twinge of guilt.  Walks are one of Riggs' favorite things.  Between my current job and my previous one, I walked Riggs for thirty minutes nearly every day.  I loved spending that time with him, and the exercise and fresh air were beneficial for both of us.  Now with my work schedule and obligations, walking is no longer part of our daily routine.  This isn't to say Riggs doesn't get the attention or exercise he needs we have a big backyard, and he gets plenty of affection when our family is home.  There is, however, no comparison to the ritual of a good walk.

We can’t always be with our dogs…what we can do
is make the time we have count.

When our responsibilities become overwhelming, it's crucial to create time for what's important to us and those we care about.  Riggs still goes on walks, but his enrichment also comes in other forms.  He loves to run and be chased, so after work, we often race around the backyard.  I’ll throw his Frisbee or soccer ball, which he loves to tackle and carry awkwardly as he runs.  We play tug with his toys in the living room after dinner and use treat-dispensing toys to give him rewarding challenges to solve.  Once a month, we schedule a "field trip" a special outing specifically for Riggs!  Whether this means going to the beach, park, trails, or "puppy store," we make sure to take him on little journeys filled with treats and adventure.  This is a great way to practice life skills, like riding in the car, experiencing new sights, sounds, and smells; and being around strangers and other dogs.  Most importantly, it gives him what he wants mostâ€"time with the people he loves.

We can't always be with our dogs, no matter how much we might want to be.  Just as with any other relationship, what we can do is make the time we have count.  A tired dog is a well-behaved dog, so it's important to regularly give our companions the exercise they need and deserve.  When we do have a little extra time, walks, field trips, and other activities are a special way to enhance the quality of our dogs' lives.  One of the most invaluable pleasures of having a pet is not only the companionship they give us but how much joy they show receiving ours.  Step out with your beloved friend, create a memory, take a deep breath, and let them show you how to appreciate the moment you're in.

Breonna Loxley is an animal care technician at an animal shelter. She is an avid artist, writer, and animal-lover. She lives with her parents, a younger brother, two cats, and one dog.