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Walk the Dog
Photo: J. Waksmundzka
I have a confession. Despite being happily married to my wife for over 30 years, I have a red-haired, blue-eyed girlfriend who adores me. My wife does not worry because my “girl,” Dixie, has four legs and stands about thirty inches high. She is an Australian Shepherd.

I am serious when I say Dixie adores me. I am her human. When I am home I am the most important thing in her universe. At times it verges on worship, which I find unnerving. Yet even in this, I sense God’s hand—and His sense of humor.

The Bible cautions in Luke 12:48, “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” The price of Dixie’s adoration comes in the form of walks—long walks.

Every evening, after dusk, Dixie and I go for a walk in my neighborhood. Usually, we go two miles, because Australian Shepherds are dogs that need a lot of activity. This evening walk is the highlight of her day. After dinner she follows me around in increasing anticipation, as I wait for the evening’s cool to begin.  Eventually, she goes dancing to the door, every time I stand up. Could I say no to such an entreaty? I have not the heart. No matter how good or bad I am feeling—whether it is hot or cold, wet or dry—I get the leash, and take her out, around the neighborhood.

Keeps Me Healthy

It turns out Dixie’s adoration may help keep me healthy. Exercise—especially walking—helps people in their fifties. My walk burns calories (which keeps my weight down), and lowers blood pressure. But the key is that you have to exercise regularly.

If it were just me, when it is rainy or I am tired, or just feeling lazy, I would probably skip this walk. Knowing me, I would probably skip it more and more. Yet, because foregoing my walk would leave my dog desperately unhappy, I get the leash and get my exercise.

When we got Dixie unexpectedly, I little dreamed that she would choose me with whom to bond. Yet that bond helps keep me healthy. It is a if One who watches over us found the perfect way to overcome my indolence.

Could it be just me? The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine Research Center for Human-Animal Interaction (ReCHAI)* has been studying this issue. Their research shows that dogs makes great exercise buddies—better than a human, especially for those in the fifties and older. In part, it is because, like my Dixie, dogs want that walk, while human buddys often look for an excuse to skip the walk.

So my adoring dog will continue to get her walk, while I continue to get the exercise I need—whether I want it or not. 

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By Mark Lardas. Copyright © 2014 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®.

* See http://munews.missouri.edu/events/2009/1020-a-pet-in-your-life-keeps-the-doctor-away-2

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