I enjoy being awake early in the morning, but I do not like the actual getting up part. For years, that has kept me from carrying out those plans to get up and exercise or walk my dog before work. It is so easy to just roll over and swear to start tomorrow. I have heard that you have to do something 21 times before it becomes a habit. Well, I finally crossed the 21-time mark and have woken up every weekday since March 12th at 5:20 am to walk my dog, Oz.
My daughter and her husband moved from our house to their own place on March 10th and took Ozzie’s lovely little buddy Bella with them. The thought of Ozzie being alone during the day spurred me on to try to make his day better by spending some time with him in the morning. I set the alarm on my phone and put it on the other side of my bedroom so that I had to get out of bed to turn it off. It worked.
The first week we went out around 7:30 when I was finished getting ready for work. Then the weather forecast one morning said rain was moving in, so we went at 6:30. I liked that better than going out in my work clothes. We kept that up until an early meeting at work caused me to take him out as soon as I got up. We were out of the door a little after 5:30 and I liked that best of all, so we have been on that schedule quite awhile now.
We walk for 35 – 45 minutes. I don’t watch the clock, but that’s just how long we end up staying out.
Ozzie gets excited the second I reach for my sweats. As I tie my shoes he takes off toward the kitchen. I pack treats and poop bags and grab my glasses and house key. He sits next to the kitchen table on high alert, watching every move I make.
We teach them to sit while we prepare their meals and put on their leashes or before petting them when they ask us to. I was going to teach Ozzie to sit quietly while I put on his Gentle Leader. But I decided that I missed the way he joyously thrust his nose into the halter and let him do it his way. I do wait to open the front door until he is sitting. So, we compromise.
We take a slightly different route each day. Many times I let Oz choose the direction we will turn at a corner. Sometimes I choose. I let him watch rabbits and squirrels and stand up tall with his paws on a tree as he follows the squirrel with his eyes. He stops what he is doing to trot with me to the nearest good spot when it looks like he might… well you know. I let him sniff tall grass and ask him who was there. He sits at cross walks and comes to my side when I say “with me” at busy corners. I patiently “stalk” the traffic helicopter down the street with him. We check in with each other. I ask him for “touch” or “watch me;” he rubs his head against my leg. I experience the weather, wave at neighbors or at new people we have discovered out and about in the early morning. The other dog walkers. The lady who jogs with her dog. The man who delivers newspapers. The teenager who waits for a ride to school. The lady who passes by at 6:10 on her way to the train. The lady who recently starting speed-walking and was very nervous when we were near. Now she waves.
Ozzie pees, sniffs, watches the world and whines wistfully when he sees other dogs. I enjoy the moment with him, not yet thinking of the day to come.