My dogs and I walk a fair amount: three plus miles each morning, a couple miles midday, and a bit more than half-a-mile late in the afternoon. My goal is between five and seven miles each day. Lacey, the border collie, goes every step with me, while Fergus, the Irish terrier, is content to guard the house for at least one of the walks. He’s about 11 years old so he’s allowed to hang back.
Lots of people in our neighborhood are dog walkers. We know some by the dogs’ names, some by sight only, and some only by the fact that the encounter results in snarling, growling, barking, and occasionally cussing. The cussing is me, not the dogs.
There are some ‘yard dogs’ that we see regularly. We’ve made friends through their fence with a few, less friendly with some others. But we know that we will not see them on a lead giving their people any exercise. It seems a shame, but not everyone enjoys walking.
Two streets from us is Jock, a terrier, like Fergus. Jock’s a really nice little fellow and one of the ‘yard dogs.’ His people seem like good folk and there’s a boy at his house but Jock is always outside alone. Some middays we find him lying in a patch of sunlight looking sad.
I know that dogs prefer routine and have surmised that this is Jock’s life: he sleeps inside overnight and stays out in his fenced yard during the day. He knows nothing different so he doesn’t miss what he’s never had.
But, it doesn’t keep me from wishing that we could meet Jock and one of his people, connected to each other by a six-foot lead, and carrying a couple of plastic bags to pick up whatever Jock might leave as a result of his exercise. I think he’d like a wider vista than just that patch of sunshine.
Good dog, Jock.