A Walk Around the Block

The backs of Peanut's and Dog One's heads in the foreground; the sidewalks in our older neighborhood stretch out in front of them.
Peanut and Dog One head down the sidewalk in our older neighborhood.

It was actually nice out yesterday, if a bit muggy, so I decided to treat Peanut and our dogs to a walk around the block.  We live in an older neighborhood, so there are lots of big trees that have forced the sidewalks to bend and warp, and there are tons of driveways that provide “inclined planes” for Peanut to walk along. There are lots of sights and sounds for him to enjoy, too:  birds chirping, dogs barking, wind blowing through the trees, kids laughing.  I think this might have been our first walk around the block where Peanut actually walked (in earlier walks, we either used his stroller or didn’t make the entire circuit).

I was surprised at how well a simple walk around the block worked for exposing Peanut to a variety of surfaces to walk along:  he got to practice with the slants of the driveways, broken sidewalks, steps up and down, subtle color variations, the whole gamut. I’m pretty pleased, all in all, with how it turned out.
Up sides:
  • It’s free!
  • It’s definitely convenient.
  • It’s a good walking challenge along the lines of the surfaces, etc. that the Occupation and Mobility Specialist had recommended we expose him to.

Down sides:

  • A 2-year-old toddles at a slow rate of speed.  I want to say it took an hour for us to make it around the block; at regular speed, I can do it in 15 minutes.
  • Our dogs are greyhounds, so they were a bit disappointed at the slow speed of the walk.  Dog One, in particular, was pulling at his leash the whole time and looking at us like we were insane.  You could practically hear him thinking, “you’re kidding me, right?”

What I learned:

  • I am definitely taking Peanut’s stroller with us to the Trolley Run on April 17th. I’d planned on letting him walk the 4-mile route on his own, but I now realize that if we do that, we will finish the Trolley Run sometime the following week.
  • It’s good to have an extra leash handy.  Peanut didn’t want to hold it the whole time, but I brought along an extra leash that I clipped to Dog Two’s collar.  That way, I held the main leash (Dog Two outweighs Peanut by at least 20 pounds, and greys, being sighthounds, will sometimes try to take off after small, furry creatures that scuttle across their paths), and Peanut got to feel he was helping as he held the second, shorter leash.  It worked reasonably well, and I think it would be a fair way of teaching a child how to walk with a dog, without having to risk losing the dog.
  • I love and adore Peanut’s monkey backpack.  I know that there are people who are against harnesses for small children, but it made me feel much more secure knowing that I didn’t have to worry about my dogs or my son running pell-mell into traffic.  Peanut did hold my hand for a good portion of the walk (I help him balance), but he sometimes wanted to be independent–the harness was a good anxiety-reducer, because I knew that even if he took off running (toddlers are like sighthounds that way, come to think of it!), he wouldn’t make it very far.
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