Thursday, November 01, 2012

Blog Guelph: 10,000 Walks

Playing the Field by Aidan M.D. Ware
Playing the Field, a photo by Aidan M.D. Ware on Flickr.

When my dog Bennet passed on this spring, I was thinking about the many walks we’d had together – some great ones, some terrible ones too. I remember one time out on the trail he found himself a deer head with the eyes still in it. He ate the eyes out but refused to give up the head. Finally after walking himself home, he dropped the head when finally we took the vacuum cleaner outside and turned it on. He always hated the vacuum.

Then there was the time he ate a squirrel that he caught running in the deep snow, the time he carried around a big dead goose he found in the river, the time he stuck his head in a fisherman’s backpack and stole his breakfast sandwich, and the time he ate a dead pheasant feathers and all up on 3-Stage in Collingwood.  Some of these times were really frustrating, although I laugh about them now.  Some were almost tragic too. On a walk in 2011, Bennet found and ate a chicken bone which was poisoned. It nearly carried him away that Canada Day long weekend.

But many walks were beautiful too - running on the ancient sand dunes of Awenda, hiking miles on the escarpment, swimming in Kettle lake, exploring the Bruce, watching the ships in Tobermory, finding solitude in Algonquin, picnicking on the bluffs of Georgian Bay and out at Guelph Lake… I have so many great memories. In the snow, in the wind and rain, in the sun, the climbing heat, the bitter cold, at dawn and dusk, through summer and winter storms…

Looking back on it, I realized that Bennet’s life spanned approximately 10,000 walks.

Now I have Rogan. He’s a five-month old Doberman with a roguish attitude and huge amount of spunk. We’re just setting out on our 10,000.

Like Bennet, we’ve had some really beautiful walks; the stunning quiet of a morning as the sun rises, or the mix of shadows in the fields as the sun sets. I’ve even made some good friends. Rogan’s best buddy is Ripley, a red Doberman almost the same age so we get the boys together regularly for a tussle, rumble, and roll.

But there have been lots of difficult walks already too; lots of times when I can’t let him off leash because it’s not allowed, or because there’s garbage everywhere.

10,000 walks.

That’s more trails than a jogger will run in 10 years, more trails than a cyclist will cycle in ten years. Yet there are hardly any safe, clean, places to let your dog run, especially in Guelph.

We have parks for children, trails for joggers, trails for cyclists, but almost nothing for dogs. And you know, we’ve taken and are living on animal habitat - so don’t you think the least we could do is provide space for our pets to be normal? 

I don’t buy a gym membership, but you know I sure would buy a membership to a maintained park with acreage, hiking trails, agility courses, and socialization areas. A clean, safe place for Rogan to grow up, make dog friends, and live a long life.

And maybe get to 15,000 walks. 

~ Aidan M.D. Ware

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