2011 Resolutions

I was initially going to forego resolutions for the New Year for a number of reasons, not the least of which being that they’re mostly arbitrary and rarely kept past the first week back to work after the holidays.

But then I started to get excited about making a huge list of potential resolutions I would impose on the masses provided I were bequeathed with omnipotence.  It would’ve turned into something akin to “2011 Changes for 2011”.  I had a lot of ideas.  The list included things like a mass revolt against flexi-leashes, retail pet sellers, and grain-filled pet foods.  I would’ve demanded complete nutritional assessments and overhauls for all of our pets.  Extended and upgraded training in obedience, as well as trying new skill categories such as herding, agility, or water rescue as the case may be.  Regular volunteer time spent at local shelters and large and frequent donations to charities.  Biodegradable poop bags only.

However, these are the kinds of lofty goals that require major changes (and time and money commitments) we like to think we’re all capable of but that are also inevitably doomed to fail.  Although resolutions are often made with the best intentions, “life” (whatever that is) gets in the way, and even our pet-related resolutions can go the way of the latest New Year’s diet, workout regime, or utterance of “I will never drink again”.

And this is why I have determined the key to success is small, workable changes – and not many of them.  One or two, max.

So, while you can decide for yourself what needs resolving, I’ll share with you my idea for an easy resolution for all.

In our household, the dog gets a minimum 60 minutes of walking per day (we’re lucky to be part of the minority that require only an hour).  On weekends when we have the opportunity to break routine, it’s often more than an hour at a nice location, but during the week when we have jobs and domestic duties to attend to, the usual is 60 minutes is met by taking one of a number of routes around the neighbourhood.

So looking at this routine, I resolve to add simply 5 minutes on to every walk.  The minimum will now be 65 minutes.  And the 5 minutes doesn’t have to be just adding an extra couple of blocks to the route.  I can alternatively choose to use it working on skills, patience, or focus with the dog, or bonding through play – fetch, hide and seek, etcetera.

It’s a seemingly small change, but I think it will be well worth it.  An extra 5 minutes per day adds up to 35 minutes more of quality time each week; over 30 hours over the course of the year.  That’s 30+ more hours spending time focused solely on your furry family member, something that can do nothing but benefit the pair of you.

So that’s it.  Five extra minutes.  8% more dog walking per day.  It’s simple enough and part of a pre-existing routine making it easy and not so life changing.  Status as a “resolution” alone can possibly doom it to fail, but I’m willing to give it a shot and welcome you to do the same.

Oh, and a final note to anyone who may not already have a minimum 60 minute per day dog walking routine:  get on it, slacker.  That is officially your new mandate.  Not a resolution – a mandate.  You owe it to your dog.