Dog therapy: A writer’s break
Why writers should have an active, non-writing hobby
When my cousin got married a few years back, my parents wanted to leave town. But I knew they had a German Shepherd that would be left to her lonesome for three days. I asked, “Who’s going to feed Faith?”
Now Faith wasn’t the kind of wild dog that needed a dog sitter. She could’ve definitely been content outside in their backyard with enough food to last her three days. I, on the other hand, just didn’t want to leave her. I handed over the keys to my reasonably new car and told them to cancel their rental. And I took that dog everywhere with me in their older car and walked all over the neighborhood.
While I was happy for my cousin finding “the one” and think her husband is an incredible guy, I still don’t regret my decision. Hanging out with dogs makes me gloriously happy. I had plenty of deadlines to meet and knew eventually I would have to work.
I was just able to check off my to-do list with someone furrier and softer beside me. Looking over at my four-legged friend, who was muscular and large enough that grown men crossed the street to get away from her, Faith was the ultimate “girls trip” for me.
When I made dog walking a second profession
Faith passed away in 2014, but her nine-year presence and the 13-year-presence of my previous Labrador Retriever/German Shepherd mix (Shep was his name) made me go on a relentless search to buy a condo that allowed dogs.
Unfortunately, after a three-month search and three fails, I finally threw in the towel and chose the condo that I loved that did not allow dogs. It would allow me to afford my writing career, but I lost the dog companionship in the process. Sorta.
That’s when I realized dog walking was an actual paid profession. It never occurred to me to do it in any of my 22 years of being a dog owner. I signed up for Wag! and Rover without really thinking much about it. Now 33 dogs and 173 walks later in three months, I can’t imagine going more than a week without walking at least one dog. (At some point, it got out of hand and I was walking four dogs a day and extremely close to missing a couple of magazine deadlines.)
Recommended Read: “Wag! dog walkers, beware of scammers”
You’ve probably read enough studies about why dogs are great for mental and physical health. They can decrease allergies and asthma in children, increase physical fitness in adults and make dog owners less likely to have heart disease. Dog owners’ life spans may increase, too. However, my answers are a bit more superficial: They’re just amazing friends.
Why should my dog walking hobby matter to writers
You may not like dogs at all. Maybe you’re more of a cat person. But the fact remains that I think every writer should have some non-writing/non-reading outlet. We can spend days on our couches writing away in journals, typing away on laptops, and staring at news programs and transcribing away at interviews. At some point, we need to stand up. Stretch our legs. And do something active.
I am also a loyal gym rat who rarely if ever misses Pilates, WERQ dance fitness or Zumba. But I’ve ditched all three if one of my regular dogs needs to be walked. I even managed to combine my love for writing and editing, and I was hired by several veterinarian publications and dog health blogs to work on their sites. Win-win!
But at some point, I still think we need to get active. Sedentary life can not only leave us in an unhealthy state. It can also turn us into that weird condo owner who never leaves her home because she has no financially attractive reason to step outside. That is, until she found a way to make money from the second job she loves as much as writing. And that job likes to lick her cheeks and use her as a standing yoga mat.