Monday, April 12, 2010

Dogs Bring a Sense of Community

Walking is one of my favorite forms of exercise. On good RA days I feel like I could walk for hours. Prednisone and draining the fluid in my knee has helped get me out this last month and do lots of walking. For that I am very thankful.

Before Izzy I used to attempt to get out and walk but I always felt lonely. I liked the quiet of being alone, but for some reason felt too alone. Once she started walking with me, things felt right. I could have the quiet of being alone to think but also had the feeling of someone else there with me. Many good things have come from our walks. I get more exercise, more time in the sun, more time to connect and train with Izzy, and I have met so many wonderful people in our neighborhood that I never knew existed.

Last week Izzy and I decided to ignore the rain and go ahead with our longer walk. This walk takes us to the other side of our neighborhood. Before I started having problems with my knee, this was a daily walk for Izzy and I. It feels good to be out doing it again. While we were walking I spotted an elderly neighbor sitting on his front porch. Only something was missing - no Rocky. Rocky was one of the first dogs Izzy met when she was a puppy and I was trying to socialize her. Rocky could always be found in the front yard, without a leash, following his owner. A very calm dog. He was good for Izzy who is full of energy and senses calm from other dogs. I asked about Rocky, knowing as I asked what the answer would be. My neighbor shared that Rocky didn't make it through the winter. I immediately felt tears swelling in my eyes as I know how much Rocky meant to this man. He started talking and met us at the end of the driveway. He shared how Rocky came to them years ago rather than them looking for him - as if they were meant to be. He shared how difficult this loss was for them and how they were trying to look for a new dog but there are so many choices that it is difficult.

As Izzy and I continued on our walk I thought about this neighbor as I have every day since talking. I thought about all the other neighbors that I have met due to having a walking companion each morning. When I walked alone, I would pass people who said "hello" but that was it. With Izzy, I have conversations. I get to know the people who surround me. I like that. I like that Izzy has helped bring a sense of community to my world.