I am completely exhausted and overwhelmed and emotionally drained. As if out of spite, my cold has turned into a cough. The kind of tight, unproductive, painful cough that may or may not go anywhere, but leaves you barking uncontrollably like a dog.
Speaking of which. (See what I did there?)
In California, we had an amazing dog-support team. Walk On, Pup is a hybrid dog walker/doggie daycare. Several times a weeks I dropped Huck and Cooper off in the morning, and they would walk in mixed packs throughout the day, often walking eight or more miles. They learned leash manners, how to be social with lots of breeds/sizes/temperaments, and how to deal with outside forces like critters and loud noises. They would come home exhausted and happy each night, and it was a huge load off my mind, especially when life got busy.
As soon as I knew we’d be moving to Minnesota, I started looking for dog walkers. I knew I would never find anything like Walk On, but I didn’t realize it would be so hard to find someone who could offer both discipline and high-effort exercise. Most of the people I found promised to give my dogs lots of treats and belly rubs, with a slow meander around the block. Their websites were pastel pinks and blues, and they assured me they would love my dogs as much as I do.
Um, no thanks. My guys have the energy of a dozen dogs, and belly rubs just won’t cut it.
Then one day in a Cub Foods parking lot, I saw a branded truck about to pull away. I can’t remember the exact wording, but alongside pictures of happy dogs in nature was some text about giving dogs lots of exercise. I jumped from our car before it had rolled to a stop, sprinted across the parking lot, and threw myself in front of the truck like a total lunatic before it could drive away. The driver was Steve from Ruff Break.
Ruff Break promises to wear the dogs out at all cost, and Steve’s speciality is training dogs to run alongside his bike. (My ex and I tried this with Huck and Cooper once. After a couple of false starts, Huck was totally into it. Cooper was terrified of the bike and kept trying to make a break for it, resulting in some bruises and road rash for the ex. We were too scared to try it again, but man, it would be so amazing if both dogs could be trained to do it.) Ruff Break will also take them swimming in the summer, teach them to pull someone on skis, play hardcore fetch, and other stuff.
We had our consultation with Steve last night, and today they’ll go on their first outing to assess what they can do. From here on out, they will go for 40 minutes, 5 days a week. I cannot possibly quantify how relieved I am to get this kind of routine going. While I am committed to providing as much exercise myself as possible, there are so many times when I just can’t set aside meaningful time.
Maybe it’s the exhaustion talking, but knowing there’s someone there to pick up the slack honestly makes me want to cry.