February 09, 2018

Valuable Lessons I Learned by Walking My Dog


I’ve had my wire-haired dachshund Juancho for nine years now, but in the past I’ve always had the privilege of having someone else take care of his needs—may that be my family or our household help. Now, our circumstances have shifted and we’re left with only each other. All of a sudden the responsibilities of walking, feeding, and cleaning up are on my shoulders. And boy, what an adjustment period that was.

Now every morning, we go on our 30 to 45-minute walk so he can poop and pee, and at the same time drain his energy so he’ll literally be lethargic all day when I leave for work. It was a new way of bonding and getting to know each other, but little did I know that I’d learn more about myself than I do him. Damn, Juancho really keeps me grounded. So what have I learned in the past three weeks of bonding? Scroll, scroll.

Socializing is not so bad

One of the first things I dread when I would walk him was interacting with other pets and pet owners. Not that I don’t like other dogs or even humans, but I just think I’m too socially awkward and weird—not to mention I have my morning face on sans coffee.

But as we go through days of meeting new dogs and people alike, I’ve opened myself up to interaction. I’d ask about the other fur babies and would not steer Juancho away from potential contact. Now we have regular friends we see every day like Baymax the Golden Retriever and Lucy the Poodle—I don’t know their humans just as much, but we’re getting there.

It’s important to stop and smell the roses pee

During our first week, I find myself taking Juancho on brisk walks. I stop him from taking his sniff and interaction breaks, and would only pause when he wants to pee or poop. That meant dragging him at times or even carrying him in order for us to finish our “walk” as fast as possible.

Now, a lot has changed. I allow him to take his time and disrupt what I call an “efficient walk.” Juancho now gets to stop and smell other dogs, including the marks/pee that they leave behind. Coming from a line of hunters, a dachshund’s sense of smell is extra strong, meaning he’d sniff out every post, bush, and road side he will ever encounter. And what do you know? It left us both happy and satisfied, not rushed at all.

It’s okay to get down and dirty 

As I would always say, I’m a germaphobe (not neat, that’s different). I would imagine different strains of bacteria and germs to be crawling up my skin when I touch something and as you would expect, it applies to my dog. I’d be so tense walking him around as I imagine all the possible dirty things he’s picking up.

Juancho lounging after his morning walk

Right after our walks, I would rinse him down in order to feel tad bit safer, but eventually I realized that I’m only stressing myself out. I should let him be a dog and just run wild (let’s take a step back, he’s wearing a leash). Now I let go of that unnecessary stress and wouldn’t think of constantly cleaning him up with some anti-bacterial baby wipe.

Turning into a morning person is the best thing ever

I’ve always valued my time in bed and would be known to pass out anytime, anywhere. But ever since living alone with Juancho, I had the responsibility of waking up extra early in order for us to take our precious walk. I can’t just ditch this time, because that means the rest of his day will be off if I do. And we have already come to a point where he literally wakes me up because he knows it’s time to go out.

All of that means I’ve developed the discipline to make sure I have enough sleep the night before in order for me to get up every morning and feel energized. Not only have I done more things in a day, but I’ve become more active too. From my average of 3,500 steps a day (DON’T JUDGE!), it’s now up to an average of 11K. Hooray!

BONUS: Clean as you go

This I’ve known since forever and that’s why I carry biodegradable poop bags with me every time I walk Juancho. This is more of a simple reminder for all of us. Do you hate stepping on poop? Well, others do too. So when you walk your dog, simply bring poop bags or newspaper so you can always clean up after him. Not only is that good for you, but for everyone who’s walking the same pavement.

I can say that my dog and I are closer than we ever been in the past nine years and I’m loving every minute I have taking care of him. Now what are the things you learned while caring for your pet? Share them with me by commenting below.


Photo courtesy of Clem Onojeghuo/Unsplash

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