Couch Cat: Walking yourself and your dog

23 August 2019
Author   Jackie Wilson Asheeke

Winter is ending and I can no longer hide my ‘unfit’ bulges behind sweaters, vests, and jackets.  It is high time to think about increasing my exercise routine. 
While I no longer can afford a barely-used membership in a health club, there are other methods of sweating positively.  Walking is a great one.  Walking with your dog, is even better…however, it presents problems with the other dogs in the neighbourhood who aren't amused at the invasion of their space as my doggie and I pass through.  My stress-reducing (supposedly) and sweaty health walk ended up being an echo-chamber for intense dog-barking.
Since I live in a reasonably safe area with lots of steep hills and gated residences, once again, I have decided to spend weekend mornings forcing myself to exercise by tackling the highest hills. 
Along with screaming thighs and a thumping heart as I heave my brown-sugared bulk up and down street slopes, last weekend, I decided to bring my Labrador Retriever Ajax, along with me.  Ajax told me he loved the idea of hanging out together and, with his favourite toy in his mouth, we set off just after sunrise on Sunday.  He happily towed me behind him as I struggled to hold on to his leash.
At first, I enjoyed the doggie company; walking alone can be boring. With Ajax dragging me along behind him and my newest whodunnit audiobook playing in my earbuds, I was good to go.  On the steepest hill, Ajax's strong forward momentum actually discouraged me from stopping to catch my breath or giving up and going back home.
But, when we turned up a side street to do another hill, the gauntlet of dog barking began and it was tumultuous and nerve-wracking for both of us. 
Irate canines of different breeds appeared at all gates and fences and even on top of walls, barking and snarling and scaring poor Ajax to death!   My 2 1/2-year-old Lab is a large dog, so his panicked attempts to hide between my knees nearly knocked me on my bum.  I felt embarrassed because I knew that such a racket in the early morning hours would disturb people's rest. 
Imagine the scene:  there I was, sweating profusely, gasping for air as I trudged up a hill, my dog is repeatedly dropping his toy so I have to keep picking it up, and this huge golden Labrador catches the scents of many angry dogs and begins to whimper like a total wuss, tangle the dog lead in both of our legs, and tries to place himself between my knees as he cries into my aching thigh.   All the while, the barking from dogs on all sides is at a fever pitch and I am standing in the middle of the street, reassuring my frightened baby, hoping no cars come speeding around the bend. 
Finally, I forced Ajax to ‘man-up’ and stop crying.  I put his toy around my wrist (it was a small rubber tyre), took the lead and dragged him towards home.  As the dog barking faded away, my pooch regained his nerve.  As soon as he saw our gate, he began pulling me towards it with a passion.  I dropped the lead, opened the gate with my clicker (my burning muscles made running with him impossible) and the dog made a mad dash for safety.  So much for doggie companionship during lonely walks.  He had the nerve to ask me for a dog treat after I flopped down on the steps of my house to catch my breath.
I am still going to force myself to go walking on weekend mornings; whether I bring Ajax along again, is still up in the air.  


The Windhoek Observer is an English-language weekly newspaper, published in Namibia by Paragon Investment Holding. It is the country's oldest and largest circulating weekly.

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