Barking Blondes: Muttly motivators, bewildering walkers and playful picnic thieves
It’s taken the might of the dog world to reveal just how much the Olympics have inspired us to get fit. The answer is, we’re afraid, it hasn’t. This week the Kennel Club, not a government think tank, claimed that dogs inspired more people to exercise than sporting events. Their research shows that 60 per cent of Brits are less active this year than last. Less than 1 per cent of us are inspired by Olympic role models.
However, more than half of all dog owners agree that their dog encourages them to get more exercise by walking at least four times a week; eight out of ten people say that having a dog makes them fitter.
So why then do so many city dwellers employ a dog walker? London parks are heavily populated with men and women, brandishing bum bags and a posse of four-legged friends all attached to one lead. It seems to be the “plan B” for anyone unlucky enough to have been made redundant, dumped by a partner, or bored. Finding life tough? Why not become a dog walker?
In fact, the two of us have marked it out for future employment, except both our stroppy bull breeds, Molly and Matilda don’t do rain. And that’s the crux. We are certain it’s a fantastic job on a pleasant sunny day but can you imagine collecting Mrs Browns’ schnauzer whilst holding on to Mr Jones’ Rottweiler, in the pouring rain? AND then having to pretend that you like them. Dogs are like children. You may love your own but you don’t have to acknowledge anybody else’s.
Why have a dog if you don’t walk it? It’s like owning a Ferrari but asking a stranger to drive it. Walking your dog makes everything all right. They help you see things you otherwise wouldn’t and you greet people you generally wouldn’t recognize. And, as the Kennel Club points out, they make us get up off our great big posteriors, away from the telly and exercise.
A word of warning though, choose the right dog for the activity. Owner on bike cycling with a dog by his side or jogger keeping pace with their pooch is an awe inspiring sight. One we can only envy.
Matilda, the bulldog, unfortunately, overheats before she gets a pace on and Molly the cunning bull terrier invents a shoulder injury after a few yards. Dogs can be as lazy as us if given the chance.
However, doggy dancing is becoming as popular as Zumba and you get to choose your own costume and music. Tugging with your mutt indoors with an old tea towel or bit of rope is fab for the upper arms and throwing a ball, great for shoulder ligaments. Don’t cheat by using those long plastic ball retrievers though. Bending down and throwing, for a dog that never tires, has its own rewards.
The best form of all exercise, however, is choosing a dog that refuses to come back. We watched with agony last week, as a springer spaniel, in Brixton’s Brockwell Park, set his owner the challenge of a lifetime. The dog was young and agile, the owner wasn’t. The spaniel thought it was a game but his owner knew every rule would be broken. It leapt from picnic group to group, escaping one with a baguette in his mouth, and the owner followed. He then dived into the rose garden and chased some pigeons before spotting something in Tulse Hill and galloped towards it. The portly, red-faced owner, screaming his name, still followed.
We were on our way to the market so missed how it all played out. On our return, an hour later, however, we noticed dog and owner, reunited, walking by the side of a mounted police officer.
Imagine how many calories that would have burned off.
‘Barking at the Moon’ is on every Thursday from 10pm until midnight on BBC London 94.9fmTagged in: dog walking, dogs, fitness, olympics, pet care
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