Walk. Walk your dog. Walk Nantucket.

Nantucket Dog Walk

 
 

I’ve been in many a rut. Job ruts, life ruts, and dog-walking ruts. They are so easy to fall into. Convenience, time (or lack thereof), inertia, and efficiency all contribute to digging a groove so deep it requires careful planning and a boat load of will power to climb out of. But varying your dog walking routine does not have to be a Herculean effort. If you are in a dog-walking rut (or, worse, not walking your dog at all), switching it up can be an easy jumping off point to creating novelty and change in other areas of your life.


My old stand-by dog walks are stand-bys for a reason. Proximity to home or work, length and weather factor in when deciding to go to Gardner Farm or South Shore for the 36th time this week. And while I do love these walks, there’s something to the old adage that “a change is as good as a rest.” Not just for me, but for the dogs. I’m sure they are sick of reading the same old pee-mail day after day, and running over trails so well-known that Makita doesn’t even bother to off-road it. And if they have to look at that ratty old bird carcass one more time. . . !


Maintaining this website has inspired me to take walks I’ve never been on or haven’t walked in a long time. This morning I went on a trail I have not been to in over a year. I went solely because I wanted to write it up for this site. Not surprisingly, I loved it. I’d forgotten what a magical walk it is and how diverse the terrain. There were ferns, a deciduous forest, a walnut tree, a fairy garden—you don’t see that every day on Nantucket. As with all my changes in routine, this long-avoided trail turned out to be a fun adventure. And as usual, I kicked and screamed all the way only to then ask myself, “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”


The dogs, too, love going to new places. Today Makita was so busy off-roading she probably did 5 times the walk that Ike and I did. Birds, squirrels, the smell of deer and rabbits all got her looping into the brush and ferns while Ike and I marched obediently on the clearly marked (and numbered) path.


Getting out of a dog-walking (or any other kind of) rut is easier if you take it in baby steps. If you want to try a new dog walk (or if you want to just plain take your dog on a walk), start small. Step 1: Tell yourself you will take your dog on one new walk this month. Step 2: Choose the walk (for help, go here). Step 3: Connect the walk to an activity you have to do anyway (for example, going to the dump). Step 4: Invite a friend (this step is optional, but it might help you commit to going). These steps can each be taken on separate days so you are not overwhelmed with all the change.


When the appointed day comes, call your friend, leash up your dog, and go! Notice as you walk if the experience is exciting and positive. Are you seeing new things, being motivated in any way? Pay attention to your dog’s reaction to the new sights and smells. Is there more tail-wagging and off-roading than usual? Noting the positives for both you and your dog will make it easier to try another new walk next month.


Choosing to take a new dog walk can be a gateway activity. This month a new dog walk, next month a new hair-do, a new hobby . . . a new you?