I just got home from Gatsby's last walk of the night, and I realized that he and I walked a total of more than five miles today. That's actually a pretty standard day for the two of us though. Gatsby is now sound asleep on my bed while I type this entry, and I can't help but be proud that he seems to be relaxed after what I think he would agree was a rewarding day of playtime and exercise.
As a dog walker, there are many days I consider slacking on the time I take Gatsby for a walk. Let's face it, if you walked a minimum of six miles with clients each day, would walking another five or more really be at the top of your list? I've tried sending Gatsby to doggie daycare to lighten my walking load, but that seems to stress him out too much. So ultimately I suck it up and make sure that Gatsby gets his exercise each day regardless of how tired I might be because I realize it's good for his body, mind and overall well-being.
On the days I consider skipping some of Gatsby's walk time, I think of something I recently experienced. At my previous apartment I attempted to make it a daily routine to take the stairs to the 22nd floor (my floor) at least once each day. One day I came home with a 7 or 8 pound bag of cat food and decided it was the appropriate time for my 22-story climb. By the time I reached the tenth floor I was already exhausted. What does this have to do with skipping Gatsby's walk time?
I got to thinking after that 22-story climb about how much of a role that additional 7 pounds had on my ability to exert myself, and it made me think about the extra 20 pounds I was carrying around on a daily basis due to my huge appetite for good food. There's nothing wrong with eating, but it needs to be balanced with the right amount of exercise. Then I got to thinking about how 7 pounds is roughly 3.5% of my total body weight...how would that 7 pound bag of cat food relate to an overweight dog? Here's what I concluded:
My 7lb bag of cat food on Gatsby (about 80lbs) would be the equivalent of him gaining only 2.8 pounds. Take that one step further and apply it to the majority of my dog walking clients (average around 20lbs), and my 7lb bag of cat food on a small to medium dog is only 0.7 pounds!!!
Some people may think that skipping their dogs' exercise is not a big deal. I can't stress enough how important it is for your dog to get regular walks and exercise (as well as a reasonable diet), and I'm not talking about the quick run out the front door for a potty break - just because the leash is attached does not make it a walk by default. And as an added bonus, everytime you take your dog for a walk, you're also exercising yourself, and the average one-hour dog walk burns about 250 calories for a normal person (compare that to 80 calories burned while sitting watching tv).
I completely understand how hard it can be to get motivated to take the dog for a walk after a long day at the office...that's exactly why I started Get Pet! I want to make sure that people with more demands on their time than me still have a way for their dogs to get exercise to stay fit, healthy and happy!
Growing up in the country in Pennsylvania gave me tons of experience with animals from a very early age. I later pursued a career in horseback riding and also have experience as a veterinary technician. I have a strong passion for animals and have an uncanny ability to connect with all sorts of furry friends.