Skip to content

Where I resolve to be a better dog owner by landing face-first in mulch

by John on April 24th, 2014

I have two dogs. These are old, crotchety dogs who are set in their ways. And, they’re about as different, personality-wise, as can be.


Hobbes had Duffy before I met her. He’s a Cairn Terrier stowaway from Texas. He likes warm. He likes quiet. If you’re good with math, the transitive property will tell you he loves my kids when they’re asleep, because he steals all of their warms.

Hobbes does not like winter. Winter is cold. Winter is snowy and rainy and wet and yucky.

More than anything, though, Hobbes likes his walk, especially first thing in the morning. He checks his pee-mail, he gets to explore. He gets an excuse to cuddle up for the rest of the morning. Winter and walks, however, don’t always agree — especially with his absolute hatred of the cold. There are mornings that are too cold for Hobbes. And, considering that Hobbes is a dog that, flying in the face of stereotypical dog behavior, only eats when he’s hungry, mornings, lately, have included me sleeping in, cuddled up with this blonde ball of grump. Hobbes will only be roused, in the morning, by the promise of a walk or an empty bed.


Snickelfritz, on the other hand, is a slightly younger, yet still-elderly, border terrier. He likes to play. He likes to bark. He likes a little bit of chaos. Perhaps more than Hobbes likes his walks, Snick loves his food. Once he determines that it’s time to wake, any rousing on the bed means “it’s breakfast time,” and he’ll whine. And Snick has this whine that feels like it should only be audible to other dogs1, but it’s perfectly hearable by Duffy and me. And it’s annoying. It’s so annoying that I’ll get out of bed and pour food in his bowl just to make it stop.

And then I’ll head back to bed and resume cuddling with the grumpy dog who has no interest in eating breakfast because he’s not getting out of bed unless you’re going to walk him.

Now that the weather is warming up, though, I’m resolving to be better about getting them to walk. As I said, for Hobbes, this is the one event that will warrant him actually getting out of bed. For Snick, a walk is acceptable only as the price to pay for breakfast. He hates walking, but not so much that he will refuse to go, as he knows there’s food at the end.

Me? I work out plenty – I don’t need the walk. But a walk, early in the morning, does allow a convenient method for collecting my thoughts before the day starts getting too crazy. But my dogs should walk more2, if, for no other reason, that it’s easier to convince Hobbes to eat breakfast if he’s walked & therefore, already out of bed. As he’s old – I worry about him eating enough, though I believe the kids do a pretty good job of keeping him fed.

So I woke this morning to walk them. I wanted to stop, half-way through the walk, though, and start taking my bodyweight training to the playground at the local park . . . it just seemed right. The reason I’m working out as I’m working out is because I can to it just about anywhere — most of the exercises I’m doing, I need, only, myself. Dips need parallel bars. Pull-ups need something for me to pull myself up to — while I have a dip station and a pull-up bar at home, it’s just easier for me to work out when I’m not at home — at home, it’s difficult for me to get into the right mindset. And the playground has everything I need3.

So, this morning, I set my alarm and got up. Snickelfritz, hearing the alarm, woke and was raring to go – because, well, once someone is moving, it’s time for breakfast. But, we didn’t get breakfast right away, so he was all sorts of confuzzled. I got dressed in sweatpants, sneakers, and a tshirt, picked up a grumpy Hobbes (who got considerably less grumpy as soon as he started realizing that a walk was in his future) and walked downstairs to put the dogs on leashes.

As soon as I stepped outside, though, I realized that it was C-O-L-D. I contemplated whether this was “too cold” for Hobbes, decided that, no, it wasn’t, but that I, at least, needed a coat. So I started to walk back inside to which my 13 pound cairn terrier, thinking I was calling off the walk, protested by making me drag him. Seriously, this is a 13 pound dog, but he held his legs straight against the ground — I don’t know how he created such leverage, but it was pretty impressive. I guess it’s fair to say that he, at least, didn’t think it was “too cold” for him.

I promised Hobbes, right then, that I’d be far better about taking him for walks most any day that it’s not raining (when it does rain, even Hobbes will seem to say “it’s ok, we can skip a walk right now.”).

Of course, through all of this, my ulterior motive to get a quick strength training workout in was ruined when I actually got to the playground. It was cold — I got onto parallel bars to start doing some dips to warm myself up when I realized that I had no grip strength. Well, maybe I did, but I couldn’t feel my fingers . . . just too damn cold.

But, once the weather is warm enough for me to hold onto metal bars, I’ll be doing dips and pull-ups and back-levers. Unless I break my nose after falling while trying to do some silly gymnastics move.

1 In a tragic bit of irony, Hobbes, a dog, cannot hear this whine, despite the audible range. As Hobbes, in his growing old, has become stone deaf.
2 I should note that we have a fenced-in yard and a dog door . . . so the dogs do have a convenient method of taking care of things when nature calls.
3 Also, the playground is heavily mulched, which is a far softer surface than the concrete of my basement. One of the bodyweight exercises that I’m trying to work to is the Back Lever. I have serious issues even attempting the move, however, and I believe it’s far more due to confidence than strength. A mulched surface is far more forgiving if when I fall flat on my face in trying to build up rotational strength in my shoulder.

From → Dogs, Family

  1. I am resolved to take them and the kids on one when we get back in the afternoons.

  2. Wicket loves both her walks and her food, and yet is astonishingly patient about both. Food we can manage–but on a lot of days, recently, it really is hard to figure out when to take her for a walk.

    • That’s what spurred this post — during the winter, I had broken the habit of habitual walks . . . I’m going to get back into it.

  3. So I really shouldn’t think about getting a dog now, until my kids are old enough to a) feed them and b) walk them. 🙂

    • It’s funny, if I offer to take the kids with me when I walk the dogs, they’re ALL for it. But they want to hold the leashes. And, well, that’s a recipe for disaster.

  4. I like the name Snickelfritz.

    I would not have the patience for dogs I don’t think.

    • Snickelfritz is what my grandfather would call me as a kid – it kind of stuck.

      I love dogs – truly, but there are times that, well, yeah, they just suck up all available patience.

  5. Hobbes sounds like my kind of guy.

    That scary thing you linked to? Scary.

    • I hope you’re talking about the Back Lever…and not Duffy’s blog 🙂 Yeah, that is scary, but not nearly as scary as the front-lever. Or the planche — and those are next on my list.

      And Hobbes is a great dog — the other day, I was trying to get the dogs ready to walk. Snickelfritz isn’t allowed on the bed, and was easy enough to find, because he was trying to trip me in his begging for breakfast. Hobbes, though, well, we couldn’t find him anywhere. He didn’t appear to be in bed, he wasn’t under the bed, or on the couch, or in any of his normal hang outs. He didn’t appear to be outside (but, as he’s deaf, it’s certainly possible for him to be outside and not realize we’re calling for him). I decided to ruffle the comforter on the bed, just in case . . . what I took to be CJ’s legs were, in fact, a Hobbes curled up tight, under all of the blankets.

  6. Wait, you have a dog who only cares about cuddling and sleeping? That dog is my soul mate.

    • The dog is pretty amazing — the only things that keep the dog from becoming my soul mate are his general “take it or leave it” attitude with food (while I appreciate that he only eats the food left for him if he believes that “the good stuff” that I, Duffy, or the kids might eat isn’t available to him, I have the attitude of “eat whatever, now, and hope for more later”) and his belief that “anytime is a good time for a walk.” I might walk him at 5am, but I’d much rather be sleeping at this time. He’d rather wake up from a good cuddle session, walk, and then cuddle some more.

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS