Taking long, contemplative walks is one of life’s simple pleasures. Doing so with a dog, I have discovered, is even more fun, even if it means carrying around a hot, steaming bag of poop part of the time.
For the past week, I’ve been dog sitting my girlfriend’s lovable German Shepherd, Lily. Lily is nearly three-years old, and very well-trained (my girlfriend will tell you otherwise, but she did a good job with Lily). For that reason, we have been walking a lot this past week. Being somewhat inexperienced with dogs, anytime she starts nosing at the door and whimpering, we go for a walk, so we’re probably doing it way more than necessary.
Regardless, taking all these walks has afforded the pup and I several opportunities to see the town. Walking a location, rather than zipping by in a car, gives the walker an intimate understanding of a place. Lily has certainly left her mark—scatologically and otherwise—all over.
My little town of Lamar, South Carolina is beautiful. It is very well-suited to walking, with mostly flat streets, decent sidewalks, and plenty of shade trees. The trees are key: it gets very hot in South Carolina, and the humidity is even worse. With a black-coated German Shepherd, having some shady spots to escape the Sun’s oppressive rays is a must. Because the town is largely residential, there are plenty of soft, green lawns to walk upon (on the edges, of course). Besides squirrels and birds, plenty of rabbits, toads, and frogs are about, too, which Lily enjoys bolting after (often pulling me, suddenly and unevenly, along).
There are also tons of dogs. And cats. Despite our leash ordinance, there are often dogs off-leash, which puts Lily into a tizzy. Even when such nomadic canines are absent, there are plenty living outdoors in kennels and behind fences, and they all seem to go crazy with barking when Lily trots past. She has gotten better about ignoring them, but any time another dog and its owner go sauntering by, Lily attempts to lunge at them, making for quite a spectacle as a doughy man attempts to subdue a skittish German Shepherd.
One unfortunate insight gleaned from walking is that my town is trashed. Don’t get me wrong: I love Lamar, and encourage everyone reading this blog to move here immediately. That said, not everyone seems to love it quite as much, based on the amount of trash I’ve found around town. I lugged home an entire front bumper that Lily and I found on Main Street Sunday morning (she was terrified of it, dispelling the myth of German Shepherds’ renowned bravery, at least in this case):
Lily and I picked up quite a bit of trash downtown Sunday morning before church. Aside from the bumper, we picked up a discarded stuffed animal; a shattered Hennessy bottle; a plate full of an unidentified goop; and lots of bits of plastic and aluminum junk.
As a member of Lamar Town Council, walking Lily has resulted in several conversations with residents. That’s been very useful, as I’ve been able to hear from them firsthand about their concerns for the town, and to (attempt to) answer their questions. That’s been constructive, if occasionally discouraging—we have many problems that need to be fixed, all of them urgently, but most of them without any clear solutions in sight.
All unpleasantness aside, our walks have been quite lovely. Lily loves to explore and nose around. I’ve had to shoo her away from several piles of feculence, and quite a few ant beds. She also enjoys nosing the frogs and toads we stumble upon during our dusk walks. Sunday evening—just before a major storm system rolled through—she kept nudging a toad in the middle of the street with her nose, which led to some comical hopping about.
We’ve also figured out good walks for short bathroom trips, and ones for longer bouts of exercise. My step count has shot through the roof lately, and we’ve even overdone it a few times: a black-coated German Shepherd taking a half-mile walk at 3 PM in the middle of the South Carolina summer is not the best idea, but it does make her sleep hard and fast through the night.
Finally, these walks have made me want a dog of my own even more. Perhaps I am spoiled with Lily, who is well-trained and sweet, but I am excited at the prospect of having my own pup—and older, docile one, preferably—at the appointed time. I spent about an hour on the phone Sunday with Anja, a placement coordinator with the Bull Terrier Rescue Mission, Inc., to discuss one of their older dogs. I was not looking at the breed specifically, as it’s notoriously difficult to train, but apparently their personalities are diverse as human’s, and there are plenty that are content to be loafers and couch potatoes. Regardless, it turns out he would not be a good fit for my situation, but the organization is very committed to finding good homes for their dogs, and stays with the dogs for life. I recommend checking them out and sending them a donation—and I will keep readers posted if they find a dog for me!
For now, though, I’ve got enough to handle with this pup: as I write this post, Lily is whining and looking longingly out the window—no doubt at some squirrel she wishes to chase—so I’d better wrap it up. My house is going to the dogs.