Confession to make: I have this phobia about walking my dogs.
Okay, it’s not the walking that worries me. It’s more the potential for conflict, i.e. running into other dogs and having scuffles. I know, I know, NO ONE likes that, but I’m, like, really freaked out about it. Years ago, when we lived in town, I walked my dogs all the time, and it wasn’t a big deal, because all the dogs, for the most part, were on leashes. But then we moved out to the country, where a lot of people let their dogs run free, so there’s always the potential, when you’re out with yours on the leash, for another to come rushing up to you, no owner in sight. And then what happens?
See, I don’t even want to know. So I keep my dogs mostly in the backyard, which is huge and fenced and they can run around like crazy and I don’t have to worry. But. Lately, we’ve been watching a lot of The Dog Whisperer, with Cesar Millan, whom I (and Oprah) adore. And Cesar says dogs MUST be walked, that they NEED to be walked, that it helps with behavior problems and dominance issues and everything else dogs can have problems with, and let me tell you, my dogs do have some problems. (As I write this, they are running wildly past, wrestling WHILE in motion, snarling and yipping.) So my husband is adamant that we start walking the dogs every night, no excuses. And I really, really want to be able to. But last night, when we were out with them, I was so nervous that some other dog was going to appear out of nowhere, and anyone who watches Cesar will tell you that this is NOT GOOD, that you have to be calm assertive and put off good, confident pack leader energy, not be clutching the leash and wrestling with your own weird issues. Easier said than done, though, right?
I probably shouldn’t even be sharing this, because it makes me look pathetic. But here’s the thing: I want to get over my fear of this. And the best way to make sure that I do that, and keep walking every night, is to tell you all about it, because that’s like, however many people—hundreds? I have no idea—who now know about it, which will keep me honest and prevent me from wimping out and quitting. Last night, when we were out walking, it was a beautiful evening: the sun was setting, the neighborhood quiet. I kept thinking, I should—I could—enjoy this, if I can just face my fear and get over myself. Weird as it was, I was also thinking about Owen Armstrong, who often comes to mind lately when I find myself being spineless about anything. Best way out is always through, have to let things happen in order to learn to deal with them, and all that. I’ve had a lot of things I’ve been afraid of in my life, like flying, for instance. But I found that the more I avoided flying, the more scared I got, until it was something so big I didn’t even know how to start dealing with it. When I did start to fly again, though, it got a little bit better, bit by bit. I mean, I’m never going to love it. But I can do it now. And maybe I’ll never be totally relaxed out walking my dogs. But hopefully, sometime, I’ll be able to notice the sunset, and the quiet, and the night BEFORE I think about every bad thing that could possibly happen. It’s a goal, anyway. We’ll see if I get there.
All right, my dogs are now pawing at the door, clack-clack-clack, demanding to go outside. I swear, it’s like I work for them sometimes. I wonder if walks will change that? Hmmm.