Monday, January 4, 2016

The Delights of Owning a Dog (or Three) and the Writing Benefits

From Kate's Writing Crate...

          When I moved out on my own after college, I went to an animal shelter and adopted an adorable St. Bernard mix named Barnaby. Over the years, my family has adopted three other wonderful dogs and six cats from the animal shelter. As we also love German shepherds, my family has adopted two adult shepherds. We’ve brought home a few puppies, too, as we own multiple dogs at a time.

          However the dogs arrived, they have all given us love, joy, and companionship as well as a reason to get outside and enjoy nature.

          I love walking in the woods or alongside water. I love watching the sun rise and set. I love rain and light, fluffy snowfalls. I don’t mind mud. To this day, I haven’t found any one person who will walk with me under all of these conditions, but the dogs are always ready to go.

          I wouldn’t have seen as many sunrises and sunsets as I have if not for the dogs. It’s easy to convince myself to stay in bed, but the dogs give me a reason to get up and go outside. Breathe fresh air. See the changes in the seasons. They are ecstatic no matter the weather or the time.

          This makes the dogs among the best fitness trainers—located at home, available on my schedule, cheerful under any conditions, always willing to walk longer or more often, and work for food and treats. They don’t mind walking with only me or the whole family. Also, petting dogs (or cats) lowers blood pressure. Relaxes us. Makes us smile. It’s just fun to be with them.

The dogs greet me and all family members with wagging tails when we return home. They bark to let us know about visitors. They snuggle with us on the couch. They do tricks. They love us. In short, they make us happy.

The dogs also keep me company when I’m writing and editing. Sometimes they lie on my feet which keeps them warm this time of year. They keep me active as they need play breaks—me, too! But in walking them, I get inspired. Fresh air jolts me awake. I see my surroundings as birds, squirrels, chipmunks, and the occasional deer and coyote make sudden appearances. I see the footprints of creatures out walking before us. We also meet other people and their dogs.

Then there is the light. The beautiful colors at sunrise and sunset. The glow as it reflects off snow covered fields and trees. The sparkle as it hits the stream. The dappling in the woods. Sometimes all seen on the same walk!

Thoreau believed sauntering was essential to his life and writing. I believe it, too. It's an active writing exercise. The rhythm of walking is soothing. The changing views are eye-opening. The fresh air is invigorating. I take a small notebook and pen to jot down thoughts and often start writing as soon as we arrive home.

If you are looking for all these benefits including writing inspiration as well as a way to keep your resolution to get fit, consider adopting a dog. If your life isn’t conducive to dog ownership, please consider becoming a dog walker for a local animal shelter.

Here’s to another successful year of writing!

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