If you have a dog, then you'll never feel lonely. Yes, dogs are great companions there's no doubt about that but it isn’t only the dog that will spare you from loneliness.
My wife and I are dog lovers, probably my wife more than me if I’m honest, but this latest rescue dog has found a way, with his big dark brown eyes, to get under my skin. It was pretty much love at first sight but now we are best friends. And over the past month our six legs have been clocking up the miles as we are in training for a much (much, much) longer walk next year. But from small acorns grow proud oaks, so we’ve started a daily fitness regime.
To be honest it isn’t really that challenging for Toto. He’s only 18 months old and has more energy than a nuclear reactor. Whereas at the end of our daily walks my calves feel as tight a drum he is still bouncing around like a rubber ball.
I like routines. So we have our walking routine. Same route, ever increasing distances, we’re on week two meaning 8 kilometres split into two shifts. And we’ll continue until we get to 16 kilometres a day and then stick there, that’s my goal and what I need to make the longer walk next year.
So being a “creature of habit” we have built up a group of friends, Toto has his furry friends and I have the two-legged variety. Toto is a very (very) friendly dog, probably too friendly, and has this manner of wanting to meet everyone with a hug. He literally jumps up with his two front legs apart and wraps them around the unprepared walker and then waits to get stroked. Needless to say we’ve had some unusual and embarrassing situations. It is however a rather novel way of meeting new people.
The saying “if you have a dog you’ll never be alone” clearly doesn’t only mean the dog itself but the plethora of people you’ll meet. “What if humans greeted each other the way dogs do?” asked another walking friend as we watched our dogs chase each other in circles. “Does that mean the first thing I’d have to do is sniff your behind?” I joked back at him.
Now there is one thing that Toto loves more than chasing a ball and that’s children. He just loves the attention the fun and the occasional screaming. So when I saw a large group of girls in park I knew that he only had one thing on his mind and that was jumping in the middle of them. An instructor stood at the front and was clearly teaching the girls dance moves. I put Toto on the lead as we moved away from them “The last thing they need is you in the middle of them jumping around.” Yes, I speak to him all the time.
Now our route is circular. So, every time we passed within eyesight of the dancing girls Toto had his eye on them, before looking back at me for permission to join in the fun. Everything was going well until our last lap. The girls were clearly coming to the end of their dance and exercise and the instructor was motivating them to push that little bit deeper. Whilst on the last exercise she started shouting “TO-TO-TO-TO-TO-TO.” In a flash his ears were pinned back and he accelerated like a Rimac car across the park.
As much as I called his name he had his target. He had heard his name and was shouting “Here I come!” With a leap he was surrounded by dancers, the majority stroked him, a few screamed and ran for cover and two even called out “It’s Toto!!” It would appear that he had ended their dance session. As I arrived looked at me with an expression that said “They called me, I only came because they called me.” And yes dogs can speak, but only to those who know how to listen.
Or as the great Mark Twain once wrote "The dog is a gentleman; I hope to go to his heaven not man's." And now I’m off to do another few kilometres, I wonder what fun we’ll get up to this time.
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