If you think you don’t have enough structure in your life, get a dog. If you’re wondering whether or not you’ll make a good parent, get a dog. If you want to lose weight, get a dog. If you think your spouse or significant other needs more discipline, get him or her a dog.
I volunteered to walk my friend Marc’s dog Lulu while I was on a work trip to NYC—not really understanding what that meant. Easy peasy right? Walk the dog a couple times a day. Feed the dog a couple times a day. Life is good.
I’m a thirty-something, newly-married, childless, petless adult. I regularly sleep in on weekends. 9 hours minimum on any given weekend day. My husband gets more. I swear Dean’s like an overgrown kid because he needs at least 10 hours of sleep a day to function.
After my red-eye, and a day and a half without rest, I was looking forward to sleeping in and getting a good 10 hours of sleep in Marc’s cozy West Village apartment. But at 8am, I swear to God I thought someone was in the room talking to me. I slowly picked up my head. “Marc?” I was in a daze. Is someone in the apartment or is someone talking loudly outside the apartment? I couldn’t tell. I went back to bed.
“Ruff, ruff!” Lulu raced over to the bed.
“Were you talking to me earlier? Or was I hallucinating? Look Lulu, I didn’t sleep last night. There’s this thing called turbulence…”
I groped around for my glasses. “Ok, ok. Give me a second.” I stumbled, drunk from sleep deprivation, threw on one of Marc’s sweatshirts, searched around for my flip-flops, grabbed a couple poopy bags, and exited the apartment with anxious Lulu following my every move.
The first time I walked her after Marc left, she wouldn’t follow. Poor Lulu saw her owner drive away in a car service and she resigned to wait in that same spot until he returned. “Lulu, he went to Paris for a week. Are you going to be like this for a whole week?” I tugged at her leash. “Cmon.” The four-legged bitch settled into the pavement and wouldn’t budge. “Let’s go Lulu. Don’t you want to go for a walk?” After a few paces down one way, and a few paces down another, she tugged me back in the direction of the apartment at the front of the curb where Marc had left for the airport.
Who is walking who? I felt like I was getting walked by the dog. I psyched myself up. “You’re a disciplinarian. You have to show this dog who’s boss. “Let’s go Lulu!” She resisted and pulled away. I had no other choice but to bring her back home. She spent the rest of the evening planted by the front door, waiting for Marc.
But I’m starting to get the routine: walk in the morning, food and water, walk in the afternoon, water, walk in the evening, food and water, walk before bed, more water.
After a work meeting started to run late today, I became anxious, tapping my feet on the carpet, drumming my fingers on the conference room table. “I’m so sorry, but I have to go walk the dog.”