Putting One Foot in Front of the Other!
Posted on April 29, 2016
Since having a dog it is quite remarkable how much walking I have done and the more I do it, the more I seem to discover it is my favourite pastime, especially in solitude.
Quite why the ability of putting one foot in front of another is a source of such joy I don’t know; perhaps it is the fact that the closer we become to no longer being able to do it, courtesy of disability or the grave, the more we enjoy it?
When I first started walking my dog, I didn’t quite know where I stood (or walked) as strolls with friends never really materialised, so I started by using Danebury Hillfort as my new territory. This was because I was informed it was a great place for dogs as it is vast and beautiful but also enclosed and far away enough from roads where a puppy could get flattened.
As time passed, people became more familiar and then friendly and eventually, too familiar. The problem you see, is that I like dogs but I don’t love them and believe them to be some sort of super-intelligent being. Dog owners on Danebury Hillfort believe that given the right environment, their dogs would be able to calculate complex derivatives.
My dog chases housemartins in the belief he might catch them and he will happily leap into an ice cold river to retrieve a stick that will serve him no purpose whatsoever. It is funny to watch and he is great company, but to all intents and purposes, he is also thick. I can turn around on a walk and he will not have a clue that we are heading back to our starting point until he looks at the car and thinks “Hang on..how did that get there?”
Swan stand-off: Dogs are fun but pretty thick really
I went through a period of walking with a woman, her dog, and an elderly man who remarkably, remained alive, despite embarking on chain smoking as if it was the only way to bump start his ageing lungs. Apart from hearing her promoting the benefits of a Boris Johnson leadership coup in the Conservative party, I also found myself walking at about half a mile per hour talking about the amazing brain capacity of what appeared to be the cross of a Great Dane and a Poodle.
I am overweight at the moment courtesy of too much alcohol and food, so one of the key objectives of getting the dog was to lose a bit of fat, so I surmised that walking with a guy who sounded like every breath was his final death rattle and thought his dog was Einstein, was about as non-productive as it gets.
Coupled with a middle-aged lady with Daily Express inspired casual racism, I could take no more, so I divorced them both, deciding to use solitude as my only option, getting up early enough to avoid everyone and allow my dog to find his own amusement by chasing anything that flickers past his eye line.
My abrupt departure from Danebury must have had them wondering if I, or more importantly in their eyes, my dog, was dead, and I do feel that I should perhaps show my face. However, I don’t want a Spanish Inquisition, mainly through fear of telling the truth.
“Where have you been??”
“Avoiding you as if though you were anthrax…how are your dogs getting on with the theory of Pythagoros by the way?”
Walking alone in the early morning is fantastic. Liberated from dog lovers, you can march triumphantly through forests or along rivers taking in all the wildlife, burning off some excess and planning your day ahead. You can do this without concerning yourself that the guy next to you is about to collapse and put you in the awkward position of debating whether to thrust your tongue down his throat or just pretend that he is already dead.
You meet other walkers in the early hours but generally it is just a pleasant “good morning!” gesture whilst the dogs check out each others anuses before you move on, clocking up the miles at a healthy rate as your dog thrashes around in the woods like it is the best day of his entire life. Dogs live in the moment, which is the one area where they are definitely more intelligent than humans.
After six months of ownership, I have found where I want to be when I am walking with my dog, unless I am with my girlfriend of course.
If you can still put one foot in front of another, do it while you still can, it is very rewarding. Think of as many footpaths as you can and I guarantee there are a thousand more than you imagined.