Thursday, June 6, 2019

Dogs As Exercise

My friend Webb sent me an article about the benefits of dogs as exercise companions and I was pleased to see the author made the point that a dog won't automatically turn you into an exercise freak. If you get a dog to improve your fitness you need to want to walk the dog before you get it. Hoping the dog will automatically make you want to get off the couch is being excessively hopeful, apparently. You'd think it would be obvious. 
I have never found a human that likes walking and wandering as much as I do, so getting a dog was always about he companionship. These days walking Rusty is also therapeutic for my legs as I make the effort to cover ground with him, to consciously try to walk as far and as fast as I can. Besides all that I like taking him for a walk as soon as I get home from work in the morning as the time alone with Rusty in the mangroves, is the time I use to decompress from a night of dealing with 911 calls. I don't really view it as exercise, I go to the gym for that.
Finding myself on the back roads of the lower Keys, or lost on trails winding through the trees  I have time to play with my camera while Rusty chases smells, and I have become acutely aware of the fact that I like these open spaces, these featureless plains of evergreen mangroves and buttonwoods stretching as far as the eye can see.  And this time of year I get to enjoy the sunrise obstructed by the clouds which themselves are full of moisture hanging over the horizon.
They are like wispy snow slopes in a more conventional countryside, places where mountains and rivers and lakes and forests offer variation in a landscape.
This is my time of day to leave everything behind and be alone. When he takes off sailing Webb calls his time on the water the equivalent of entering "the monastery of the sea" a communication-free cloister, a place and time to think and only be responsible for oneself. 
 Some days I see birds...
 ...other days I see clouds, but I don't see coconut palms or beaches or lovely turquoise waters out here. Thee are tons of people year round chasing those sights.
It's almost impossible to escape the sounds of civilization, a word I use loosely here, when one is in the Keys. Boat buzz about on the water and the sounds of Highway One carry for miles on a favorable breeze as there is nothing to block the noise of engines crossing these flat open spaces.
 Yet I find serenity here, and let me add that this time of year I don't risk getting run over by spandex clad cyclists when I'm walking paved roads. In winter they come out in force and pedal silently and seriously in body hugging cycling gear. I feel like an amateur human in their presence, slouching along by the side of the road with my rescue mutt and my all purpose camera.
 I have no idea what he smells but being as how he is afraid of wild chickens and farm animals I hope he will be able to avoid compromising situations in the bushes. Young Rusty survived life on the streets of Homestead when many other abandoned dogs alongside him were killed deliberately or by accident. I figure he has enough sense to avoid pitfalls, and besides who am I to worry about him when it was me that nearly died on the road and not him?
I feel lucky to see this stuff in the sky, and I look forward to the drama of rainy season and rain filled clouds during the course of the summer. It's hot and humid at ground level, especially after the sun comes up but I don't mind sweating as he price I pay to see the sun and the clouds and the golden light of morning.
Finally I can walk again pretty much unaided and to be out here is my reward for months of physical therapy and squats and calf raises and balance tests and all the rest. The real exercise in my life. This is just for fun out in the mangroves with my dog.