Oh, January Jones, Get off the phone!
The short answer is: When you are too self involved to give any attention or time to your best friend. Here is the deal. Walking your dog can be such an amazing experience. When you connect with what stimulates and interests your dog is doing it is a pretty great time. Sharing the joy that they feel from just being a dog. Scooting here and there, you can almost hear the thought that might go on in their mind. Oh, what is this smell? Have I smelled that before? Do I know this dog or was this me from yesterday? What was that movement over there? Do I smell a rabbit? I have to check that out? Some may consider that a bit crazy but I love trying to imagine what my dogs are thinking. Taking my dogs for their last walk of the day in the evening is best. When the weather is just right with maybe just a touch of wind. It is quiet and it feels like it is just you and them and you are enjoying the evening as much as they are. Just tonight, I took my “kids” (term of endearment, not a crazy personification of my dogs) for an hour and a half walk. We walked through the neighborhood and down to the lake. It was dark and while we were there I walked them down to the water’s edge. You could not really tell where the sand ended and the water began. When the dogs stepped into the water it surprised them and that made me giggle a bit. The surprise turned immediately into two very separate kinds of joy. Astaire was in heaven just slowly wading further and further into the water as we walked along the beach. Ginger flipped a switch and got a huge case of the husky zoomies. She darted here and there just at the edge of the water. Her joy was so intoxicating it put a huge smile on my face and I wished she did not need to be on a leash. I could tell her joy would be unbounded if she was able to run free, but that could not happen. I then thought I need to get them to the dog beach very soon. She enjoyed running through the sand and her pure joy seemed barely contained in her petite husky body. We left the beach and wandered through the neighborhood to get back home. When I got home, I was so happy that I was able to spend that time with my buddies. They now are sound asleep near me as I write this.
In contrast to this, I see all too often people out walking their dogs while they are talking or texting on their phones or walking back and forth on a small area of the parkway. They are totally unaware of what a special time they could be having with these special animals that they hopefully love. Much of the time, it is very obvious that they consider this time together a chore and it just consists of getting these dogs to relieve themselves so they can get back to a TV show or whatever else they were doing before they HAD to take their dogs out. How would they feel if they could only go from their house to the same little patch of grass? They were allowed to just walk back and forth in this little area and then back into the house. What a completely boring and unstimulating life. Talking and texting during a walk seems like such a waste of time that they could be really enjoying with their dogs. I carry my phone but rarely answer it or return a text during a walk with my kids. I think if these people could just disconnect for these few minutes they would be able to make a wonderful connection with those special balls of fur and craziness that they share their lives with. When I started this post I was a bit angry with people who do not cherish this time with their dogs but, now I am just more sad for these people that they have missed out on something special. Granted, not all walks are this surreal experience. But, the ordinary ones can still be pretty fun with the right frame of mind and they allow you to realize which ones are great. When you do not pay any attention to your dog during your walks with them, you make every walk a chore and then this time is less than mediocre and may never be anything more.
(photo credit: JustJared.com & INFoto.com)