Of the many things the late, great, and grievously lamented Max gave me, the boost to my health was not insignificant. He was, unwittingly, a therapy dog for me.
He was a therapy dog in that in being a dog he had to be walked – in his case, twice a day. First thing in the morning we strolled across the park with him – rain or shine. Frankly he never seemed to appreciate the sacrifices we made for him during inclement times. Oh, I wish I could go for a sodden, drenching south-easter walk with him now – damn it!
And then in the afternoon – every single damn day, we went for our longer walk. A particular favorite was the Northeast Woods here in Comox. Lots of smells, lots of things to say, and often a plethora of other dogs whose bums needed to be sniffed just to check their bona-fides.
Now the therapy aspect of it all was that these daily walks were good for my health. Indeed, walking is one of the most healthful things a body can do. And of course we walked regularly before we had Max but not quite ‘as’ regularly. If it was raining or stormy we eschewed the perambulation. With a dog you have no such choice. He does, after all, have ‘restroom’ aspects of his life to deal with. So, you get a good healthful shot of exercise and he gets a good healthful poop.
Since he has gone walking has lost a lot of its charm for me. I mean I still do it; I just don’t have as much incentive. And one of the biggest problems stems from heading to our favorite haunts of yore. Like the woods, as I mentioned.
But, I have followed our favorite circuit a couple of times. The first time it was brutal and a bit teary. Now it’s better. Not good, but better. What I do is wander along and pretend that he is present – hey, maybe he is – and picture him at different spots along the route. If others aren’t around I also talk to him and point things out to him. Not perfect, but better than nothing.
And, I must continue walking, regardless.
So if you run across me in the woods and I seem to be talking to the sky or to the plants or to the trail, I am just chatting with Max. I like to think he appreciates it.