We’ve been blessed here in Ohio with unbelievably beautiful weather. Hot, cold, warm, cold, on repeat, but nothing a few layers won’t fix. And, Mabel and I’ve been going to one of our favorite walk spots long enough that I know sidepaths and alternate routes to give her the space she needs even when everyone else is trying to soak up the spectacular fall foliage scene while enjoying a walk with their dogs(s).
However, my poor girl’s gut is still a mess. I’m lucky to have the expertise of my holistic veterinarian, helping me in between visits, tweaking Mabel’s supplements and probiotics to help heal her belly from four rounds of antibiotics in two months. But given Mabel’s penchant for poop, I wanted to make sure my sweet girl wasn’t carrying something that could hurt her or her doggie friends, so we set out Saturday morning before our awesome autumn stroll to drop off doody.
Our primary veterinary clinic is smack dab in the middle of college football territory, and I completely misjudged how early fans start tailgating, so we got stuck in terrible traffic. Still, I navigated away from it relatively unscathed.
After Mabel and I finished traipsing through trails together, I needed to run some errands. So, I readied my sweet girl for home alone time. I felt grateful for relaxing and roaming with my dog, thankful for where she and I are in our bonding journey, and appreciative for how well she’s doing when I’m gone. Mabel spends 15 minutes on her licki mat, then jumps on the bed and sleeps.
After I looked at Mabel lovingly one last time before I headed home on the webcam, I realized I had managed to get myself in post-game day traffic. However, this time, all the football fans were leaving simultaneously, and most of them appeared to be at least a little intoxicated. With plenty of time to spare on the Mabel clock but less patience for all the hubbub, I stopped to grab some food to let the crowd thin out.
And as I was leaving the parking lot, I saw a car pulling out of a spot. I honked and honked and honked, but, crunch, the back end nailed my passenger door. No one was hurt; his car was untouched, and my car had a minor dent in it. However, by the time I got home, I was too tired and wired to get Mabel in the car for her second walk, so I thought, “Let’s try a super short stroll in the neighborhood.”
I halted longer local walks in May when Mabel started violently reverse sneezing when she was stressed, and I nixed up and down the block attempts in August when my neighbor flipped out over a note asking to please leash her dog, thank you, then chased us down the street screaming who-knows-what. It stressed Mabel so severely that I’m still slightly rattled when I see said neighbor.
Heading in the opposite direction, knowing it was a super quiet time of day, Mabel and I ventured out for a walk in our neighborhood. My sweet girl walked with curiosity, her signature bow-legged stagger, and sniffed spots she hadn’t smelled in months. I kept our adventure under 20 minutes, and Mabel even happily made a doggie friend named Buddy when we were almost home.
I honestly had made peace with the fact that we may never walk in my neighborhood. But, with planning and time, we might meander without getting in the car. For those of us whose dogs are easily stimulated, sound-sensitive, leash-reactive, or all of the above, we all know that what’s quiet to most people may not be what we consider quiet. I stopped trying SniffSpots because every listing states “quiet,” and one house was 100 feet away from train tracks.
I’ll always avoid my not-nice-neighbor (fortunately, her dog is super sweet), but as the weather cools, our nearby streets get quieter, so I see more neck of the woods wandering in the upcoming months. If the parking lot fender bender hadn’t happened, I may have hopped in the car with Mabel, as usual. Thank you, Honda Pilot driver, for getting Mabel and me out, much closer to where we live.
May all of our days be filled with blessings, and if there are any curses, may they be minor and lead us to something we’ve wanted all along: the simple joy of walking out our front door and enjoying a stroll with our dog(s).