Today Niles and I went for a walk. I’m taking my Sabbath today, so I got up a little later than usual and Niles was crazy! He was tackling his brother. He was barking at dogs and people walking past the house. He was dashing from room to room trying to anticipate my every move. I thought, “This dog needs a walk!” And then I thought, “I don’t want to go for a walk. I want to take it easy.” (It was tempting to just put him in his crate to get him ‘out of the way.’) But then I told myself, “I need to take Niles for a walk.” So I did.
Part of training Niles for service dog work is keeping him physically and mentally exercised. This is where I have to step up. He can’t take himself for a walk or throw the ball for himself or teach himself tricks. He needs me to meet his basic needs so he can be there for me. It’s a partnership.
Our walk today was uneventful, but good for body and spirit – for both of us. He sniffed his favorite trees and we practiced focused attention when another dog walked past us. It was a simple thing, but just what he needed. And, truth be told, just what I needed, too. Exercise is good for my mental and physical health, as my doctor reminds me. It is another tool in the tool box for keeping depression and anxiety at bay.
Fun is also good for mental health, which is good because Niles and I are planning to have some fun tonight (along with Gary and Ben). We are going to try dock-diving for the first time! A local farm has a dock-diving pool that can be rented out by the hour or half-hour. Niles’ mother was a dock-diver, so I am sure it is in his genes!