Doggie Dos – and Don’ts
A recent study has shown that regular dog walking is good for your mental as well as physical health. Only 8% of 150 depression sufferers found that their condition had returned after six months of daily dog walking.
Hmm – the study failed to mention anything about stress levels though.
This morning I was walking my dog Max in our local park when a man entered with his dog.
‘Good morning, gorgeous!’ the man exclaimed when Max bounded over to say hello. Then the man looked up to see me smiling at him and immediately said, ‘Oh sorry, I was talking to your dog.’
‘OK,’ I said.
‘Not that you’re not attractive or anything,’ he continued.
‘OK,’ I repeated, pulling my baseball cap further down over my bed hair.
‘You are attractive.’
‘Not that I’m trying to come on to you or any-’
‘It’s OK,’ I interrupted, hurriedly walking off. It was way, way too early for this kind of social nightmare.
But the trouble with my local park is that it isn’t very big. And the only footpath goes around in a big circle. Therefore, if you happen to have an embarassing encounter with a fellow dog walker, you either have to trail along really slowly behind them, or walk in the opposite direction and then face the humiliation of having to walk past them every three or four minutes.
This morning ‘Gorgeous’ decided to walk in the opposite direction to me. Therefore every three or four minutes we had to walk past each other with our eyes firmly fixed on the shrubbery, as if endlessly fascinated by the surrounding plant life.
The first time I ever walked Max in the park I had an even more excruciating experience. Still brand new to the depression buster that is dog walking, I had kept Max on the lead so, when he stopped to sniff the butt of an oncoming dog, I had to stop too. So did the other dog’s owner. Stuck for something to say, I said the first thing that came into my head. Not the good old reliable, ‘lovely weather for the time of year’ or ‘raining again’ but the immortal words, ‘Good job we don’t have to sniff each other’s butts, eh?’
The woman looked at Max, with his nose half way up her dog’s backside, and visibly shuddered. She didn’t even offer a response, just tugged her dog away and marched off. The problem was she was marching in the opposite direction to us, so a few minutes laterI had to suffer the humiliation of passing her again, this time imagining a cartoon thought bubble rising from her head, reading, ‘Oh God, it’s that awful woman who talked about sniffing my genitals!’
Dog walking might cure depression but it’s a mare for stress related disorders let me tell you.