Armed with a pocket full of grain-free, heart shaped dog treats and poop bags tied to my person, I am ready to meet my next client. After years working in the design industry, serving up soul-rendered concept and craft often to be met with client feedback as enriching as “I like the blue one,” working with animals has come as sweet relief with rewards I never saw coming.
As a small animal massage practitioner, I spend part of my days walking dogs for a living. Human beings are crazy-devoted to their pets, however, the demands of modern life often leave owners little time during the week to give their pets the physical exercise and mental stimulation they need to stay balanced.
It’s no secret that exercise is an integral ingredient for good health. Many body systems rely on movement for proper functioning. A sedentary lifestyle can result in poor circulation, congestion of lymph fluids, and can exacerbate chronic conditions such as arthritis. Lack of exercise and boredom can also bring about unwanted behaviors such as barking, digging up the neighbor’s daffodils, or heaven forbid, pottying on your favorite pair of converse. Having access to a yard often is not enough to keep a dog happy and mentally challenged day after day. It’s far more likely for a dog with access to a yard to sleep during the day and wait for you, their beloved human, to return home. Getting your dog out and walking for as little as 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week can really make a difference in a dog’s life and pack harmony.
Breeze is a darling little white, and (for whatever strange reason in the dog world is classified as) “liver” colored Springer Spaniel. I’m not proud to admit I’ve likely prepared and consumed more liver than the average person, and at no time did it ever remind me of or resemble anything to do with a dog.
Anyway, at some point in Breeze’s life, she was a hunting dog and learned to spend long periods of time in a kennel. Breeze was having occasional problems with urinating in the house and wasn’t interested in using the doggie door that led out to the yard. Her owners speculated that her history of spending long hours confined in her kennel had something to do with her current issues and called me in to walk her at lunchtime. No matter the cause, really, it was time to get Breeze out and walking!
It took about a week for Breeze and I to understand each other. Now we cut our way through the neighborhood and changing weather, with Breeze smelling every new smell and chatty squirrel along the way. I laugh to myself at her nub of a docked tail and imagine that it’s a nose, and fight the adolescent urge to set my sunglasses on her rear end to complete the imaginary face looking back at me. But I resist, because though hilarious, it would just be, well, disrespectful to such a proper lady dog.
My new client and I don’t talk much, but she is always wildly happy to see me. So we walk—both finding what we need among the trees and birds. After some time her owner reports to me that she seems much happier, and is pottying when and where appropriate. Breeze is happy, her owners are happy, and I am happy. It’s like one big contagious rainbow of happy. And though it may not seem important, it’s just enough for me to be able to make a hugely small difference in this little dog’s life.
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