The benefits of dog walking

Every morning, I wake up at 6:45 a.m. and put on:

  • A pair of wool socks
  • And then another
  • Long johns
  • Sweat pants
  • A tank top
  • A t-shirt
  • A hoodie
  • A down parka
  • Sorel boots
  • A long scarf
  • Some woollen mittens
  • And a toque

before filling my pockets with lavender-scented poop bags and kibble. Then I spend a solid 10 minutes trying to clip a leash on my very excited dog before michelin-manning it out the back door.

Every time that blast of cold hits my face, I think: “I’m a good dog owner, I’m a good owner, I’m a good dog owner” while gritting my teeth and dreaming about the fence we’re going to get as soon as the ground thaws. By about the tenth minute, we’ve reached a local trail and Odie is prancing about like a king. I can’t feel my nose.

FullSizeRender

There are no dignified photos of me in my dog walk getup, so here’s one of Odie in the snow, pre haircut.

The walk home – about half an hour later – is usually a bit more eventful. Cars pulling out of driveways, kids walking to school, and retirees taking out their garbage in their pyjamas. Odie, whose universe used to be limited to a backyard, greets them all by jumping on them.

But last week he suddenly started barking. I was puzzled until I saw the stout elderly lady who had slipped and fallen. She’d been on the ground in her nightgown for nearly half an hour in -35 degree weather. Her nose was bleeding, but she didn’t want a doctor. She asked for help getting up and into the warmth of her home.

I tied Odie to a post, put one of my billion layers over her legs, ran to get JF, and we helped her inside. After about ten minutes of hand-wringing over the possibility that she was concussed, I called the paramedics after all. Before leaving for work, I made sure they found her house.

On our after-work walk, Odie and I dropped in for a visit. Jean was fine, but her nose hurt like the dickens.

Morals of the story? Dog walking is a great way to meet people. Also, visit your older neighbours regularly. Also, spring will be awesome.

Digging around for his frisbee

Digging around for his frisbee

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Early in the morning

Every career blog ever (and Wikipedia) has claimed early risers are more successful. These paragons of healthy living levitate out of bed, meditate for an hour, eat chia seeds, cure cancer, wash behind their ears, iron their shirts and still make it to work an hour early.

I must be doomed to failure because for as long as I can remember my morning “routine” has consisted of 33 hits on the snooze button, five-second showers, and yanking on mismatched clothes on my way out the door.

In Toronto, I would then run to the TTC, sweatily wiggle my way into a packed train, then hold an unnaturally stretched pose for an hour while someone’s muffled (and usually horrid) music rang in my ears. An evil cosmic law ensured I always got stuck standing next to unsanitary sneezers, large backpack wearers and loud talkers.

These days, my mornings continue thus: after running out the door, I hop into Tobias, drive on empty roads through lovely scenery for 25 minutes, park, walk 40 steps to my desk and start work.

This is probably the least talked about, but most life-altering perk to residing outside the GTA. The best parts of my traffic-free, insular and incident-free commute are:

  • Cranking my music
  • Singing harmony as loud as I can
  • Listening to Vague FM
  • Driving by the Elmvale Zoo and saluting the zebras
  • Taking my foot off the gas on the Horseshoe Valley hill
  • Admiring fields and trees – especially as they turn crimson
  • Planning my day
  • Making mental grocery lists

I’m still perpetually late. I’m still decidedly not zen. I will never be Benjamin Franklin. But I can honestly say the whole thing has made me a better employee and colleague. Thanks, low population density!

There are few photos of my commute because I'm, well, driving. But here's one of the zoo from a time when JF chauffeured me. Can you see the zebras?

There are few photos of my commute because I’m, well, driving. But here’s one of the zoo from a time when JF chauffeured me. Can you see the zebras?