dogs · fitness · walking

April is Active Dog Month: Who knew?

Yes, it’s true.

April IS Active Dog Month.

And, yes, there is truly a month or a week or at least a day for everything. Maybe that fact makes you a bit meh about all of these sorts of declarations (and that’s fair!) but I kind of like the idea of finding something to celebrate on any given day.

Maybe I am not going all in for National Garlic Day today, I haven’t planned any celebrations for Coin Week this week, and I don’t even think I have the required millinery to celebrate Straw Hat Month but I *am* strongly pro-fun so I vote yes on anything that brings a little levity to your day-to-day.

ANYWAY, back to the celebration at hand.

Apparently Active Dog Month was started by Natasha at Om Shanti Pups but I didn’t delve too far into the history of this auspicious month, so I can’t be sure of its origins. However, I do know that she has some good posts on keeping your dog active so check those out for some ideas.

As you know, our dog Khalee is my constant companion and she and I walk every day. I’m not really sure if I am keeping her active or if she is keeping me active but it seems to work out, either way. And if I ever forget that I need a daily walk just as much as Khalee does, she reminds me.

a light-haired dog stands on a sidewalk next to snow covered grass and trees, she is looking back towards the camera and one of her front paws is lifted off the ground.
I love how Khalee looks like she has quite enough of my lollygagging here. Image description: My light-haired, medium sized dog, Khalee, is standing on a sidewalk next to some snow -covered grass and bushes. She is wearing a harness that is attached to a neon yellow leash. Khalee’s left side is toward the camera and she has turned her head to look at me while raising her left front paw off the sidewalk.

There’s a fair amount of dog talk here on the Fit is a Feminist Issue blog (a while ago, Sam compiled some of them into a post here) so I thought it would be fun to get a few of our bloggers to chime in about dogs and exercise.

Diane:

I no longer own a dog. I like being able to travel and not worry about boarding. When I had a dog, I always resented having to take him out for long walks when I was trying to get ready for work, or it was time for bed. But I love dogs, and enjoy a moment of interaction as many as possible while out walking, even if it is just a quick whispered “who’s a good pup?” as we walk in opposite directions.

A white poster from a prank website called Obvious Plant, poster is trimmed in green and lists joke dog commands.
This poster from Obvious Plant (a satirical/joke social media account from a person who also places posters and products in public places as a prank) always cracks me up. I have yet to teach Khalee how to hover ominously but we’re working on it. Image description: a white poster trimmed in green with a list of joke dog commands. The poster heading reads ‘Most Common Dog Commands’ and the list reads ‘ Sit, Stay, GLOW, Hover Ominously, Resurrect a fallen ally, Split yourself into two so I have more dogs to pet, Seal the portal, Shoot lasers, Channel the fire breath of a mighty dragon, Spread love, destroy evil. ‘

Elan:

I do not have a dog, but I walk/hike semi-regularly with two friends’ dogs, Ellie and Ricky. I notice a heightened, vicarious enthusiasm for walking while with a dog. With a dog, the walk seems more interesting, perhaps because humans and dogs find different things interesting while walking. There is a sense of companionship and satisfaction when walking with a dog that even some non-dog owners notice. Is there a difference between dog walking and walking while with a dog? Dog owners probably know.

Sam:

Cheddar is around the blog a lot. The blog turns 10 this summer and Cheddar is 7 so there’s a lot of overlap! These days Cheddar is the reason I’m out walking at all. While waiting for total knee replacement, both knees, I’m not a fan of walking even though it’s good for me. It hurts. But Cheddar gets me out there three or four times a week. He’s lucky that I’m not the only person who walks him. I’m lucky he’s excellent at adjusting his pace to the person walking him. He’s also a most excellent yoga dog, though unlike Adriene’s Benji he’s not good at staying off the mat so he gets his own.

a dog is resting on a pink yoga mat on a wooden floor, a grey yoga mat is next him.
Cheddar has obviously grasped the essentials of a good yoga practice: get on the mat, find ease. Image description: Cheddar, a light-coloured, long-haired dog is resting on a pink yoga mat on a wooden floor, his rope toy is next to him. A grey yoga mat is next to Cheddar’s mat, and the wheels of an office chair can be seen in the background.

Nat:

Walking Lucy has become my partner and my touch point time before work, on our lunch break ,and after dinner during the week. Our youngest kid is 20 and regularly takes Lucy out solo but also subs in for one of us if cooking, work or other exercise needs my time.

Since the walks have to happen I’m out way more consistently and for longer than I’ve ever been before.

a dog sits in a porch waiting to be taken for a walk
Lucy seems to think that it is time for the humans to hurry up a bit. Image description: Lucy, a light-haired dog whose ears stand up straight, is sitting down in a porch looking expectantly up at the camera. Two rugs can be seen on the floor behind her and someone’s foot and leg can be seen on the left side of the photo.

Back to Christine:

Whether we are walking our dogs or they are walking us, at least everyone has the chance to get some movement into their days.

I am intrigued by Elan’s comment about companionship and about the difference between walking a dog and walking with a dog. When my kids were small, I used to love going for a walk and pushing the stroller – more often than not I would be yammering away to them and they would be asleep! And as much as I enjoy walking on my own, I had missed the feeling of pushing the stroller.

I thought that I was missing the extra effort that the stroller required, that my brain needed the extra work to calmly stay on task instead of filling up with other ideas about what I should be doing. (ADHD brains have a knack for that kind of thing.)

I don’t think that I really considered it before now but I think that walking Khalee gives me a lot of the same feeling that walking with the stroller did. There’s a larger purpose to my walk and I have company (which, as many people with ADHD will attest, makes almost any task more doable.)

So, now that I think about it, I definitely know the difference between walking a dog and walking with a dog, and I am doing the latter.

I’m not walking Khalee, we are walking together. I do most of the talking and she does most of the sniffing – everyone working to their strengths, you know?

And maybe her blog posts are all about hoping that I am getting enough exercise this month.

dogs · fitness · walking

Khalee Solves Christine’s Problem (a poem?)

I had a long list, couldn’t choose what to do

I sat on the step to let my thoughts stew

I was tired, annoyed, upset, and scattered

Inside my skull, my poor old brain clattered.

But as I sat there, no solution in sight

Along came a good pup to set everything right.

She started out subtly 😉 glancing back from the door

Khalee, a light-haired dog, stands in a porch crowded with shoes. Her body is pointed toward the door but her head is turned back looking at someone. ​
Here’s our heroine, Khalee, at the beginning of her brain-rescue efforts. Image description: Khalee, a light-haired dog, stands in a porch crowded with shoes. Her body is pointed toward the door but her head is turned back looking at someone.

But when I stood up, she began to implore…

 Image description: Khalee, a light-haired dog, is standing on her back paws with her front paws on me as I take the photo. Her nose is close on the camera and we can see along the left side of her head
She’s kind of blurred and frantic looking because she was moving when I snapped this. Image description: Khalee, a light-haired dog, is standing on her back paws with her front paws on me as I take the photo. Her nose is close on the camera and we can see along the left side of her head.

“Come on, Christine, it’s time for a walk.”

Well, I imagined her saying it, if she could talk.

A back on view of a dog in a green hoodie, she is attached to a neon yellow leash that extends toward the camera. She is walking on some light snow that covers a driveway and a piece of curb.
Our valiant pup leads the befuddled Christine down the side of her street. Image description: A back-on view of Khalee in a green hoodie. She is attached to a neon yellow leash that extends toward the camera. She is walking on some light snow that covers a driveway and a piece of curb.

In a few minutes of walking, with deep breaths of fresh air.

I began to feel better, my brain started to clear,

Now, Khalee’s to-do list was short, and she sure took her time,

A light haired dog sniffs the ground on a snow covered path.
Khalee investigates every path very closely. A cat might have passed here once and you can’t risk sniffing out that kind of info. Image description: Khalee, a light-haired dog in a green hoodie, attached to a neon yellow leash, is sniffing a snow-covered path.

Sniffing and scouting to see what she could find.

Khalee, a light- haired dog in a green hoodie stands on the snow-dusted sidewalk and looks off to the right.​
Khalee also does above-ground surveillance. Image description: Khalee, a light- haired dog in a green hoodie stands on the snow-dusted sidewalk and looks off to the right.

As she ambled along following all her dog plans,

I came to realize I was in good doggy hands.*

By getting me outside, making me breathe the fresh air,

Khalee had banished brain clutter and helped make my thoughts clear.

As we headed to the bridge on the way back to our home,

Image description: Khalee, a light haired dog in a green hoodie, is facing away from the camera, walking across a snow-covered ​path toward a small bridge.
Khalee leads the way towards home. Home is where we keep our snacks and a snack is the next thing on Khalee’s to-do list. Image description: Khalee is facing away from the camera, walking across a snow-covered path toward a small bridge.

I shaped my blog thoughts into this Pete-ish poem**

And then I filled it with photos of good Khalee pup,

to divert your attention from where I messed up.

So, my dear friends, if you are scattered, if your brain’s filled with bees,

Please take Khalee’s advice and walk to find ease.

You don’t need to move quickly, an amble will do,

It really helped me, may the same go for you.

A light-haired dog lies in a red leather chair facing the camera, she is resting her head in someone’s hand.
Life Coach Khalee accepts payment in ear scratches and snacks. It works out well for both of us. image description: Khalee is lying on her side in a red leather chair, her head is resting in my hand as I scratch behind her ear. My white-sleeved arm is visible at the bottom right.

*Er, paws are kind of hands, right?

**Pete is my Dad. Back in the day, he wrote this kind of light-hearted foolishness for birthday cards and office Christmas parties. I learned poetry-writing from an engineer, that should explain a few things.

dogs · fitness

Lessons learned from 11 days of dog sitting

I recently did some dog sitting for a friend (and her dog) while she (the person) was away for 11 days.

I don’t currently have a dog. We had dogs when I was growing up, and I know and love them. I know this dog, Dixie, reasonably well. Say hi to Dixie:

My task was simple: feed, walk and play with Dixie, returning her to my friend in reasonable condition. I did that. Truth to tell, she was smellier and more rumpled, but no one seemed to mind that very much, least of all the dog.

Taking care of a dog, I quickly remembered, is work. But my week and a half with Dixie reminded me of some things that seem important to share for those of you who don’t own dogs.

One: Regular walks during the day make all of us feel much happier and peppier.

I am not a morning person. But once I got out the door with Dixie, it was so nice to be outside. Admittedly, I wasn’t as excited as she was, but I enjoyed both her enthusiasm and my first-thing-in-the-morning movement.

Two: Walking in rain or sleet or snow is not the end of the world.

Of course we had wet and icy and snowy evenings (it’s always the evening, isn’t it) while Dixie was visiting. An you can’t negotiate with a dog over going out in bad weather. So out we went. She didn’t seem to mind at all, which lifted my spirits and reminded me that being outside can be its own reward.

Three: Snuggling on the sofa with a softly snoring sentient creature is delicious.

I’d spent time with Dixie at my friend’s house, but she (the dog) tended to prefer her owner when she wanted to snuggle and sleep (understandably so). But dogs are very practical animals, so in the course of making use of any port in a storm, Dixie would snuggle with me when I was on the sofa reading or watching TV. She rested her snout on my foot or leg and logged some zzzs. This configuration was mutually very satisfying.

Four: Sometimes I just want to be alone, but dogs don’t usually share or respect this feeling.

The hardest thing about dog sitting wasn’t the walking or poop retrieval. Rather, it was having another being in the house who didn’t understand the concept of “I’ll play with you later”. If I was talking( albeit to my computer screen), Dixie thought approaching me with her seasonal new turkey squeaky toy was perfectly acceptable. I’ve heard similar reports from other dog owners. The lack of alone time (I know, it sounds absurd, but there it is) was the hardest thing about her visit.

There is not one perfect solution for people who love animals. I don’t know what arrangement will work for me. But Dixie was a good dog and a good teacher who I’ll definitely be seeing at my house again for more life lessons.

I’ll be working on my squeaky toy throwing arm in the meantime.

Readers, what have and do you learn from your dogs or other peoples’ dogs? What do I have to look forward to? I’d love to hear from you.

Book Club · Book Reviews · dogs · fitness · walking

It’s Bluetoque time!

Two photos, side by side: Sam in her bluetoque, Cheddar on the walk. Text reads “Bluetoque, audiobook and after dinner dog walk.”

Christine blogged about hers first. We’re both big fans of our hats with bluetooth headphones built in. I think I even bought mine after reading her positive review because it turns out we were both struggling with the same thing–finding fully charged headphones and a hat and a dog leash, poop bags, and a dog (okay the dog part is easy). It was starting to get in the way of taking Cheddar out for a walk between meetings back when I was working from home.

Having one fewer thing to find was just what the doctor ordered. Also, between glasses and headphones and in the worst of the pandemic, masks, my ears were just too busy.

If you’ve got a 🐕 you’re out walking two or three times a day. Now luckily I’m not the only person walking Cheddar. I find with my painful knees I need something to distract me from pain while I’m out walking. Audio books do the trick.

Lately I’ve been making my way through everything Tana French has written. Some of her work I’ve read and some of it I’ve listened. Good both ways but they are excellent audio books. Currently listening to The Searcher, see image below.

Audio books have helped me increase the amount of fiction in my life. Sarah and I listen to books in the car while we drive back and forth to Prince Edward County. But mostly I listen to books while either cleaning the kitchen and/or walking Cheddar.

It’s helping me make progress with my Good Reads reading challenge even with my return to working in my office.

More bluetoque photos! Also blond dog and beautiful yellow fall leaves
ADHD · dogs · fitness · season transitions · winter

Christine Past and Christine Present Conspire to Get Outdoors This Winter

With the colder weather coming, I know that I need to make some plans about how to stay active and to help me get over my resistance to going out in the cold. 

(I’m fine once I am out there, I just have trouble motivating myself to go out – a common problem that my ADHD amplifies for me.)

I love the idea of preplanning but, despite the repeated evidence that it works, I can’t always get my brain on board with the project of organizing things in advance.

This is where some of my past posts come in handy. Thanks to a solid history of blogging here at Fit is a Feminist Issue, I can easily look back at how my past self benefited from planning and persisting and it makes it seem easier to plan and persist now.

So, yesterday, I gave myself a refresher on things my past self figured out and now my current self is on board.

I know that Khalee’s need to go for a walk will help me get myself out the door so that’s helpful.

A light haired dog in a dark green sweatshirt stands facing the camera.
Khalee has a new hoodie so she’s all ready for chilly weather. (Do I think it is ridiculous to put clothes on a dog? Yes. Do I think that she looks adorable and hilarious? Also yes.) image description; Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog is facing the camera with her mouth slightly open so she kind of looks like she is smiling. She is wearing a dark green hooded sweatshirt and she is standing indoors in a doorway.

And I know that I need to dig out my hatphones because they make it easier to stay warm while listening to podcasts.

And I have my hiking boots to get me through the icky bits of the season before I break out my winter boots.

And, I have clear evidence that planning for winter activities makes a big difference.

So, I know that Khalee will help provide the impetus to get outside, and that I’ll have warm, dry feet and my head will keep warm while I listen to scary stories on my walk. I know that now is a good time to dig my snowshoes out of the shed and store them in the house. 

And I’ve realized that I have to switch up my time for walking with Khalee because going out at 5pm in the fall means walking in the dark and that adds an extra layer of resistance. 

What are you doing to prep for fitness activities during the winter months?

Do you have any extra recommendations for me?

Aside from this:

GIF of two people in red outfits hopping through the snow in a giant sack.
This was the first thing to come up when I typed ‘winter activities’ into the GIF search bar. I confess that I had not thought of ‘two person sack race’ as a winter activity before. Image description: GOF of two people in red outfits hopping along the snow in a giant sack in the winter woods.

dogs · fitness

4 walks a day, roll on the grass, and other doggy advice

This week I did some brief dog-sitting. My friend Steph had to travel for work (yes, that’s back, it seems). Dixie, a super-sweet rust and white colored mix of Toller retriever and unknown-to-me other genetic material, joined me for a day and a half.

Dixie is a very sweet and mild-mannered dog, and is easy to be around. She likes to cuddle on the couch, play with toys, eat and nap. Honestly, these pastimes work about equally well for me.

The two of us also need regular exercise. We are both antsy and peevish if left indoors too long. The call of nature is not just a euphemism– it is real. We all re-learned during the pandemic that heading outside, preferably to somewhere with trees and green things, was absolutely necessary.

Dixie knew this already. This is why she takes time out of her busy toy-playing and napping schedule to go on walks four times a day. And as her host, I was duty-bound to go with her.

Turns out, this is a great idea.

Getting out the door as soon as you wake up is, for Dixie, a necessity, but also a pleasure. And it was for me, too. We did a short around-the-block stroll, taking care of business and getting oriented to the day. Once back, it was breakfast time for her, coffee time for me.

I worked through the morning at home while Dixie alternated dozing, walking around and sniffing at things, and coming to me in hopes of playing (yes, I threw toys a little). Once it got to be 11:45am, she was pawing gently at me, then jumping around, turning little circles in the air, ready to hit the neighborhood again.

We went for a half-hour neighborhood walk, checking out the fall blooms, noticing the kids playing at the school nearby, and of course scouring the pavement for any dropped food items. Dixie found an Eggo waffle and had chomped half of it by the time I noticed.

Afternoon meant more work (Zoom plus email plus other device-based activity) for me, and more couch-flopping and napping for her. But, 5pm came, and Dixie started dancing around the apartment again. I took up the leash and we ventured out again. This time, we took a slightly longer walk on a slightly different route. No Eggo waffles this time, but Dixie knew dinner awaited at the end.

Following dinner for both of us, we did some couch cuddling and media watching. She did some dozing. But one short outing remained– a quick walk around the block to do more business and scope out rabbits (we saw two), and then it was bedtime.

We both slept very soundly.

Honestly, I enjoyed getting out of both my work rut and my apartment on all of the four occasions. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could manage to stop, take a break, work up a little head of steam, enjoy the fresh air, and put such breaks into our daily routines?

Those of you with dogs or small children or incredible dedication to routine probably already do this. I’d like to do this more. Dixie’s coming back to spend 10 days with me later on this fall. I’m looking forward to those walks.

But maybe I don’t have to wait for her to come back? Hmmm…

Another thing Dixie is great at, which looks like fun, is rolling on the grass. I’ve not yet tried it, but Dixie reports that it’s the best thing ever.

For a more complete demonstration of the advantages of grass rolling, here’s Dixie herself.

So, notes to self: 1) take myself out for walks regularly, even if they’re short. I’ll thank me for it. 2) consider rolling on the grass sometime.

Readers who go on lots of dogs walks– do you love them? Get tired of them? What’s life like with this kind of routine? I’d love to hear from you. Also, any rolling-on-the-grass tips would be most welcome.

ADHD · dogs · fitness · meditation · mindfulness · walking

Christine and Khalee Try Walking Meditation

Ok, full disclosure: *I* was doing a walking meditation.

Khalee was just walking and sniffing everything and deciding where to pee…which is being really in the moment, I guess so she’s got this mindfulness thing sorted already.

I usually set out for my walk with one earphone in, using my walking time to hear some cool podcast stories that I would forget to make time to listen to otherwise.

Today, though, my mind was busy and I didn’t think I could focus on a story. So, I decided to try a new walking meditation that I bought last week.

Image description: Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog on a neon yellow leash is standing on an asphalt path and looking back toward the camera. Christine’s feet in black and​ white sneakers can be seen at the bottom of the photo.
At this point, Khalee was doing a ‘waiting for Christine’ meditation practice. She has to do that one a lot. Image description: Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog on a neon yellow leash is standing on an asphalt path and looking back toward the camera. Christine’s feet in black and white sneakers can be seen at the bottom of the photo.

I’ve tried to do walking meditation before, figuring that the movement would help me focus, but I found it was the opposite. Trying to make myself think about how my feet were landing, over and over, was enough to make my brain want to crawl out of my skull.

(Note: I have only tried two walking meditations before and they were both really foot-focused. Perhaps that was an unfortunate coincidence and most aren’t like that.)

Last week, thanks to a tweet from someone with ADHD requesting ideas for meditation, I came across a walking meditation from Anna Granta, an ADHD Coach from the UK.

I figured that a meditation from an ADHD coach would be a bit more tailored to someone with ADHD, and I was right!

For starters, she has a great voice. Lots of meditation leaders have voices that grate on my nerves but Granta’s is sensible, even, and friendly.

The meditation is short – less than 5 minutes from start to finish, including instructions.

And it’s very practical – leading the listener to tune into what they could see, hear, smell, and feel while they walked.

And once it was done, I kept my podcast off for the rest of my walk, noticing the sounds, smells, and the details of the sights around me.

It was a short practice but it was really refreshing. And it would be easy to do in the future.*

I returned from my walking feeling like I had untangled a knot in my brain.

Neurotypical people or those with an established meditation practice might find this practice too short or too quick but my ADHD brain loved it. It was short enough to feel doable, long enough to calm down a bit, and clear and inviting enough that I could keep practicing even after the audio finished.

I’ll definitely be using this meditation in the future. Not for every walk, because sometimes hearing a story is exactly what I need in a given moment, but I love having it close at hand for when my brain needs to smooth out a bit.

Khalee’s walking meditation was also successful. She left the house untroubled, returned the same way, and just walked when she was walking and sniffed while she was sniffing. She’s a mindfulness expert, really.

Image description: Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog on a neon yellow leash is walking away from the camera while she sniffs the ground. She is standing on some grass and there are large decorative rocks a bit further ahead. Part of an asphalt path can be seen on the right side of the photo.​
Here’s Khalee during the sniffing part of her meditation practice. Image description: Khalee, a medium-sized, light-haired dog on a neon yellow leash is walking away from the camera while she sniffs the ground. She is standing on some grass and there are large decorative rocks a bit further ahead. Part of an asphalt path can be seen on the right side of the photo.

*Her instructions are clear and now that I have followed it once, easily done on my own even without the recording. I will still go back to it, though, to help me ease into the process.

dogs · fitness · motivation · walking

On this glum day, Christine is grateful Khalee needs a walk.

You’re reading this on Tuesday but I’m writing it on Monday.

I’ve been stuck between metaphorical gears all day.

There’s nothing wrong and I’m not feeling down or anything, I’m just not…something.

It might be because I had a lot of administrative dreams last night. (You know, the kind where you spend the whole night putting things in order?*) So I woke up tired.

Or maybe it’s because the weather looks like this here today.

A paved path with trees on the side on an overcast,  foggy day.
It’s just so inspiring and uplifting, isn’t it? (Does sarcasm work when you can’t hear me say it?) Image Description: a paved path with sparse trees on either side. It’s overcast and foggy.

Whatever the reason, I’ve spent the day feeling glum and kind of vaguely dissatisfied with the work I was doing.

I know how to shake this feeling, of course.

*All* I have to do is to get moving.

But when you are feeling meh, it’s hard to motivate yourself.

And when you are feeling meh and you have ADHD, motivation is even harder to come by.

That’s where our heroine, Khalee, comes to the rescue.

Because she needs a walk, it’s an automatic part of my day.

A light haired  dog in    a red and white shirt sniffs the air on a paved path.
I love how Khalee sniffs the air like this when we are on a walk. I think it helps her decide which path to take each time. (We follow her nose.) Image description: a light-haired dog in a red shirt covered in white hearts is standing on a paved path. She is facing away from the camera and her nose is lifted as she sniffs the air.

So, despite the fog, despite the chill, despite my lack of motivation, late this afternoon, I bundled up and took Khalee for a stroll.

As we walked along, looking around and taking deep breaths, I started to feel a lot better.

I started smiling at Khalee, sniffing her way along, wearing the dog shirt that I refer to as her ‘pyjamas.’

And I was filled with gratitude for this good pup whose simple need for exercise helped drag me out of today’s doldrums.

A light haired   dog looking directly into the camera.
Here’s Khalee Pup (a.k.a. KP) after I called out ‘Hey, Good Girl!‘ so she would turn around. She knows how good she is. Image description: a light haired dog, wearing a red shirt with white hearts on it, looks directly at the camera.

I was still tired but I didn’t feel meh at all anymore.

Thanks for taking your Christine out for a walk, KP, she really needed it.

*Last night, in separate dreams, I was searching for a piece of paper that doesn’t exist in real life, I was trying to remind my husband of things that aren’t happening in real life, and I was trying to teach a sewing class over Zoom (also not happening in real life- which is best for all concerned.)

dogs · gear · nature · walking · winter

For Christine H, A Little Planning = Big Fun

Last winter, I made an unfortunate error in judgement.

I left our snowshoes in the shed, planning to take them out once it snowed enough to use them regularly.

I didn’t realize that when it finally snowed enough, it would actually snow TOO MUCH and my shed door would be blocked by ice and snow for months.

In fact, I never did get around to snowshoeing last winter. Not even once. And that was annoying.

Annoying enough that I actually made a solid plan this past fall so it wouldn’t happen again. This year, when I put the patio furniture in the shed for the winter, I took my snowshoes out and stored them in my basement.*

Last week, as I was walking Khalee down the snow-covered sidewalk and distracting her from attempting to detour onto the walking trails near our house, I realized that I was missing an opportunity.

A n outdoor photo of anwan and a dog. The woman is looking toward the camera. The dog is looking at the woman and partially blocking our view.
I tried to get us both in the photo. I guess I was sort of successful. PS: I am wearing my hatphones! Image description: An outdoor photo of Christine and her dog, Khalee. Christine, a woman in her late forties, wearing a black toque, scarf and jacket, has a reddened nose and cheeks because of the cold, she is looking toward the camera. Only the right side Khalee’s face is visible, she is looking toward Christine and partially blocking our view.

If I took out my snowshoes, I could let Khalee bound around in the snow on the path while I sauntered over the top of it without sinking up to my shins.

Now our afternoon walks are mini-adventures for the two of us. (Something Sam and Cheddar and friends clearly know all about!) Snowshoeing on a snowy path with trees on one side and a river on the other is much more relaxing than walking on a snow-smudged sidewalk with a dirty bank of snow on one side and the road on the other.

A snowy footpath extends through some sparse woods.
Even though there is a school just on the other side of the trees and there are houses on the other side of the river, this walk feels a lot more nature-y. Image description: a snow-covered path, covered in footprints, extends forward. There are lots of trees on the left and a few on the right. There is a lower spot to the right where a river lies beneath the snow.

And yes, there are a few challenges involved in the process. For example, Khalee is not a fan of the fact that I have to go out first and put on my snowshoes before letting her outside and she gets a bit worked up about that. And it is tricky to manage a bounding dog on a leash while trying to walk on snowshoes. And then there is the maneuvering involved in trying to ‘stoop and scoop’ while wearing snowshoes and being connected to a dog whose business at this location is complete and who is ready to move quickly away to the next adventure.

A medium-sized blond dog in a red sweater with white hearts on it stands on a snowy path.
Does Khalee need this sweater? I don’t know, I can’t tell if it’s too cold to be out in ‘just’ her fur but I use the same principle I used to use with the kids – if I am going to have to worry about you being chilly, we have to bring a sweater for you. Khalee has to put hers on in advance because I would never be able to wrestle her into it while we were on the path. I’ll bet it would be funny to watch me try though. Image Description: A medium-sized BLOND (This was autocorrected to blind initially but that is incorrect, she isn’t blind.) dog in a red sweater with white hearts on it, stands on a snowy path. She is on a leash attached to a harness and she is looking away from the camera. The path is covered in footprints.

But, even with those challenges, it’s still a lot of fun and it feels a bit more cardio-y than our usual walks.

I’m really glad that I had the foresight to do that little bit of planning back in the fall.

*This kind of planning may not seem like a big deal to the neurotypical but the capacity to think ahead like this has never come naturally to me, especially about stuff that is just for fun. Just another way that my medication has made a positive difference for me.

dogs · Sat with Nat · walking · winter

Making a December to Remember

I have been using walking as my 1 non-negotiable daily movement since August. I’m privileged to live in a neighbourhood that I can walk safely in day or night. I’ve also outsourced my motivation to our dog Lucy and my partner Michel.

It’s been super helpful but the consistent daily routine has made all of our days kind of the same. They are starting to blur into each other as we stroll through our daily loops. Like the robot obits in West World we keep acting out the routine… ad nauseam. The same streets around our house around the same time. We see the same neighbours with the same dogs and children. So we’ve been trying to mix it up.

The lights and decorations on houses has definitely enlivened our evening walks in the dark. We are gearing up for all kinds of weather. In one day we saw sun on our morning walk, rain at lunch, and a snowstorm in the evening.

I read somewhere that getting out whatever the weather helps us enjoy the seasons more. I decided to not bother with new rain boots, opting instead to mink oil some mid calf Blundstones I have still kicking about. They keep my feet dry and are high enough for puddle jumping.

We are thinking snowshoeing might help break up the monotony and our awesome neighbours have offered to loan us racquets to try once the snow gets good and deep.

I’m taking selfies when it feels fun to capture moments of levity and maybe spread a bit of joy.

Michel, Lucy and I are out on a walk, covered in snow and looking adorable.

I’m hoping all of this will help me curate positive memories and buoy my spirits.

Are you finding the days running together? If so, what are your strategies for staying tethered in time?