It wasn’t until I met Kate that I have ever had a dog as a pet, or even had a pet. My sister had some hamsters at some point but that was just a box of shit in the house. Anytime I brought up getting a dog to my family there was mumblings of responsibility, and things which I was still a bit foggy on. Looking back I should have gotten a dog as a kid.
At the time we met, Kate had Bonzai and Ozric (she requires all her dogs to have ‘z’s in their name). Bonzai was a rescue that Kate first saw in the parking lot. Bonzai was a puppy and Kate elected to see no other dogs and rescued her on the spot. At one point we had her genetically tested and she came back as Siberian Husky and Dauschund. Talk about an odd couple! Ozric was part of one of Kate’s co-workers litter of Boxers. Kate went over to have a look at the puppies and Ozric was the runt, and apparently quite cute.
Kate’s house had a dog door to a fenced in back yard, so it was a self service affair for the dogs. In terms of not having to pick up piles of shit it was great. However, this meant that we did not use the backyard for much. To be fair we lived in Phoenix, so hanging out in a backyard pretty much only happens if you have a pool. Kate did not have a pool, she had dirt and dry dog shit.
The first and only time I tried taking Ozric and Bonzai for a walk, we made it about 200 yards and Ozric decided to sit down. When a 60 pound boxer decides to sit down its game over, until they decide to move again. In this case Ozric stayed sitting until I started walking back towards the house. That dog was all about chillin.
After he passed and Bonzai let us know she needed a new companion we rescued Zeke. His name was Humphries but that wasn’t what we considered to be a terrific name for a dog, and there was no ‘z’. At one point a vet tech thought he looked part Argentine Dogo. Zeke was a big, beatuful, gentle beast, and loved going for walks, he was also the best on leash.
Walking a dog on leash can be a varying affair based on a number of factors. The first and main factor is the dog themselves. Some dogs are great on leash, and I hear it is because the owner trains them to be. All I know is that Zeke must have been trained by someone before us, because Kate and I are not “trainer-type” dog owners. He did not pull on the leash and walked by your side very calmly. He enjoyed visiting our neighborhood coffee shop and was a very good boy.
Eventually Bonzai passed and it was just us and Zeke. He liked humans more than dogs so we didn’t try to force a new companion on him.
After Zeke passed we rescued Dazey and shortly afterwards Enzo. Again we altered the names to protect the innocent. Dazey is pretty good on leash but she knows she can get away with a lot. Enzo is just Enzo. If there is a Squirrel or anything he is ready to go!
At this point we were only a few months into our full time RV adventuring, and we were moving around a lot. We saw a lot of states and campgrounds and went on a lot of dog walks. Walking the dogs could be interesting side quests involving other dogs, roads with lots of traffic, and wildlife.
Dog walking is a Zen activity because there is a balance. The primary purpose of the walk is to let the dog relieve themselves outside of your home. They also need exercise, but then there are the smells. Apparently a dogs nose is hyper sensitive and can detect things that are well beyond our capabilities. When they find something to sniff on it’s a big deal.
In the meantime I have other things to do, and unfortunately cannot spend the whole day waiting on them to finish their forensic analysis of whatever animal urinated on that rock. I try to let them get some-time to explore but eventually its time to move on. The other issue is that there are a lot of things they want to eat in nature. For a lot of dog owners they see this as natural and ok. For me I am not a big fan of messes inside the house and/or trips to the vet because of excessive diarrhea. So I err on the side of not letting them nibble on random shit in the woods.
In the end I think we have a good balance on our walks. I try to get them out 2 to 3 times a day with at minimum one loop around the land. Thats a good 18 minute walk and there are tons of things to smell and try and eat. I get to take a break and spend time outside with my best buddies. Its a win-win-win-win-win.