Single (Dog) Parenting
November 16, 2011 13 Comments
Alma has been a part of our family for about two and a half weeks now.
And out of the last 18 days, I don’t remember the last time I didn’t walk the dogs.
I mean, I know there have been at least two instances, but I can’t really pin-point them or remember how I made use of that time otherwise.
You see, work has taken the Husband out of town Monday through Friday at increasing frequencies over the passing months.
In the normal course, the Husband and I have an alternating dog walking schedule. Variances to that schedule are liberally made based on work schedules, social commitments, and general will, but, suffice it to say, the dog responsibilities are typically pretty evenly distributed.
And even before we adopted Alma and the Husband was taken out of town during the week, it wasn’t a big deal. Moses is a breeze to take care of and had pretty minimal daily exercise requirements as he continues to recover from his surgery in July.
But now Alma is added to the equation.
Moses and Alma have different exercise, training, and attention requirements to meet. While Moses is up to 40-45 minute daily walks now, Alma needs a solid hour, together with training exercises and skill practice, as we build up patience, focus, trust, and introduce verbal signals and their meanings.
And even though the time requirements can still be met by taking them out together, I do want to walk them separately occasionally, to give them one-on-one attention, mix up the routine, and attempt to prevent potential separation anxiety between the two.
This has added up to a lot of logged dog walking time for me lately, which, on the whole, I’m not complaining about. I like walking the dogs and spending time focussed on them. And even though the biting winter winds have arrived in Calgary and didn’t even have the courtesy to bring the snow with them, it’s still nice to have a reason to get outside for 60-90 minutes each day.
But it’s also hard.
It’s hard to muster up the energy after a long work day – every work day.
It’s hard to walk them separately as often as I’d like, because it takes so much longer.
And it’s harder to not get frustrated. Because when the Husband is home, I can take the night off if my head’s just not in it.
Don’t get me wrong, for a dog with little to no leash experience, Alma’s walk is excellent. But she’s still learning and figuring out the expectations. And she’s still known to occasionally throw all 92 pounds of her enthusiasm behind greeting a passing dog or person, attempting to chase one of the neighbourhood rabbits that plague Calgary suburbs, or getting out of the way of a loud truck that has spooked her. All of which is fine if I see it coming, too, and can appropriately and quickly respond, but those terrorists bunnies can be sneaky little bastards.
Basically what I’m getting at is that I have a whole new appreciation for the single-dog-parents out there. Whether you’re actually a single dog owner, or just the only one in the household who takes on the dog-related responsibilities, I have a whole new respect for your day-to-day commitments.
And I haven’t even been at it a full month! And I get weekend support!
So I must ask: what is your secret? Dog walkers? Caffeine? Wine?