Happy New Year!
I have decided to dedicate an entire year’s worth of newsletters to health through fitness and nutrition. This topic, and my New Year’s Resolution (which I will tell you in a minute), came as a result of seemingly random, unrelated interactions with five people, to whom I am deeply grateful.
To start, Janet Shulenberger of Nebraska Poodle Rescue asked me to dedicate a newsletter to obesity in dogs. I thought that was a great idea. However, weight management in pets is far too important and broad of a subject to cover in only one newsletter. Instead, let’s make 2009 all about healthy living. We will start with dog walking and cover different topics from there…other pets, nutrition, obesity-related diseases…let me know what you would like to discuss. I decided to start with dog walking, because it has been on my mind a lot lately, and I have not been as diligent as I would like with my own health, or that of my dogs.
I visited a chiropractor recently for the first time in almost twenty years, Dr. Shawn Schmidt. I was a little apprehensive, but soon realized that I did indeed need an attitude adjustment about my views on holistic health. Dr. Shawn asked what I did for exercise, and I realized I did…nothing. I had completely fallen out of the habit of any sort of physical activity.
Shortly before the great, internationally known speaker Luis Palau came to speak in Omaha during the summer of 2007, he challenged a group of Omahans to pick a few streets of Omaha and drive through them and pray for them on a regular basis. I have been thinking about that challenge alot lately.
During a recent veterinary visit, my Aunt-in-Law Judy Finch asked if she could start walking her puppy Lucy three miles a day instead of their usual two, since Lucy was almost grown up. I don’t know if I even answered. (If I didn’t, my answer is, “Yes! Of course!”) I was just so impressed by Judy and her commitment to fitness, that I think I went right home to walk Ebony and Noodle, leaving poor Ken and Judy at the front desk with Lucy, and the rest of my clients and patients also standing around, I assume overnight, to be seen the next day, by a doctor who didn’t run off to walk her dogs. It was a good walk though, and the three of us have been walking ever since.
And finally, Pastor Scott Christiansen challenged the entire congregation of Westwood Church to come up with individual blessing plans for 2009–ways we could each specifically help our community. I said I would pray for Omaha. I wasn’t sure what that would look like, but now I am starting to, and I think it will be kind of crazy…
My New Year’s Resolution…
I have decided that my New Year’s Resolution will be to walk with Ebony and Noodle the length of every street in the entire community by this time next year. As I pass your home, your work, your hang-outs, I will pray for you. If you will not be offended by that crazy offer, I will not be offended if you file it under “Can’t Hurt/Might Help.”
If you have a pet-friendly business, let me know and I will stop by. If you want to walk with us, let me know when and where, and I will meet you. So come on…this will be fun! You keep doing what you are doing (How is that for a guilt-proof resolution? You can’t fail!), and I will join you and get back into the habit of walking my dogs.
I believe if the five of you were standing together (Janet, Dr. Shawn, Luis, Judy and Pastor Scott), that would be such a cool group! But what I was going to say is, if you were standing together, you would each be shaking your head and saying “That is NOT what I meant!” Then you would turn to each other and say, “She is just a little off.” And that is ok. I have often been told that I am crazy (and I don’t think people are always kidding…) So why not substantiate that with a crazy resolution?
I would not make this resolution without my dogs’ input if I thought there were any chance that they would object. Their absolute favorite thing in the world is walks. We cannot even spell ”walk” anymore without them jumping in circles. In fact, I looked around to make sure Ebony was not paying attention before I wrote this paragraph. (Yes, my dogs are geniuses…well, half of my dogs are genius anyways.)
This will be fun!
So come with us! No, not down every street! That would be crazy! Down YOUR street. With YOUR dog. YOU do not need such an insane goal as I am setting. Your pets are in great shape. Honestly. For several years, the veterinary journals have been saying that anywhere from 60 to 66% of dogs in America are overweight. Well, they are not my clients’ dogs!
Ernie plays with his toys so much, it is hard to keep him up at his ideal weight of four pounds! Riley the Great Dane is a gorgeous, sleek dog made entirely of muscle and goofiness. Her friend James the Mastiff is in just as good of shape. Oreo is the only Boston Terrier I know who is not a bit overweight! And Jacy May can eat whatever she wants and not gain a pound (sigh).
And if you are one of my clients with an overweight or out of shape dog, remember that there are seasons to life. If you need to sit this one out, do. Ebony has sat with me through bouts of depression (mine, not hers), crazy toddler years, injury, and just plain apathy. We have had seasons of diligent exercise, but also seasons of being indoors together.
And there are the literal seasons too. I have seen you out in the snow and the rain and the wind dutifully walking your dog…from my living room window. I like to walk in perfect weather, which would explain quite a few of my stretches of inactivity, given that we live in Nebraska!
I do need to get my act together, though. So keep me accountable. And keep me company, at least in thought, as I set out to walk every street of our incredible city. No, I have not thought through how many miles that is. Russ said it may need to be a five-year plan, not a one-year plan. But is that so bad? If I try and all that happens is Ebony, Noodle and I get in better shape, and we have fun walking with whatever combination of friends we have with us, that will not be the worst failed resolution I have ever had.
So grab your pup and a leash. Add a Gentle Leader or a harness if it will make your walk more enjoyable. Bring a potty bag. Muzzle your Pit Bull (or put their “Breed Ambassador” vest on – congratulations to you both!) Let’s keep walking and see where we end up!
I will be the one with the gorgeous Black Lab cross with the purple Gentle Leader and the cute little black Poodle claiming all of Omaha with his pee. I may or may not have my family and our friend Baby Kendal with us. I am very good at getting lost, so I will put Russ in charge of my route. I will keep you updated on how the walking every street of Omaha goal goes…I know it is crazy, but somehow the idea is appealing to me. I think it will be fun to try. I have decided to file it under “Can’t Hurt/Might Help.”