Besides their unconditional love and companionship these two gorgeous creatures structure my day and force me to exercise:
They cannot open the back door to go in to the garden – I have to
They cannot refill their water bowls – I have to
They cannot put biscuits in their bowls at meal times – I have to
They cannot go for walks by themselves – I have to take them
Of course, this is only when I’m the only human in the house, which presently is Monday to Friday 7am–5pm. Long enough for them to have an effect.
So, even on bad days, I have to see to my dogs.
They have both adjusted to my capabilities. My husband feeds them and lets them out in the mornings (6am! Urgh! I couldn’t manage that) and brings me a cup of tea in bed before he leaves for work at 7am.
Ozzie then settles himself on the sofa and Holly comes to bed with me.
Since my sleep has improved I find I’m awake by 7am. I drink my tea and slowly ease my body into the morning through meditation, stretches, making and eating breakfast and a few light household chores. By about 9am I’m flexible, mobile and have a clear mind. Still in my pyjamas (or Holly will think it is time for a walk) I move into my study, the spare bedroom ,and begin whatever is on my to do list, study or read.
Ozzie will still be on the sofa. Holly will still be on my bed.
10.30, time for coffee and maybe some phone calls – Holly will stretch herself from my bed and ask for her bowl of biscuits. She breakfasts late.
Holly and Ozzie’s morning routines have evolved from when my fibromyalgia symptoms were way out of control and I couldn’t get out of bed before 11am, sometimes 1pm.
Somewhere between 11am and noon, Holly becomes restless. The minute I’m fully dressed she transforms into a frantically, crazed dog demanding to go for a walk.
I’ve tried two short walks a day but I can’t manage that yet, so it’s into the car, no need for leads, and we go to the common, beach or forest where we spend a minimum of 30 minutes, usually 45. They run, sniff, and play while I move at my own pace enjoying their enjoyment and mindfully soaking up the natural environment, rain or shine.
Back at the car, a wet, muddy Labrador needs to be dried.
Home for lunch with contented dogs; who now, until it’s time for their dinner, alternate between the sofa, their bed and, for Holly, the chair in the window or the bed in my study.
Having dogs has motivated me to walk further and for longer.
It took me over two years to build up to 30 minutes a day and in that time other family members had sole responsibility for exercising our dogs. Now I have fresh air and exercise everyday. This is beneficial in terms of improving sleep and circulation. Up until a year ago, I would suffer terribly with cramps in my lower legs and my feet would get so cold that I needed a hot water bottle to warm them, even in the summer months. This winter, I’ve only used a hot water bottle three times, so my circulation has definitely improved.
Having dogs has motivated me to drive and given me back my independence.
Not only did I have to increase my stamina and mobility, I also had to find ways to overcome other challenges. I still can’t manage both dogs on their leads and this was the second challenge. I needed a car I could easily get in and out of, drive and get the dogs in. The answer: a 15-year-old, automatic range rover, which has opened up all other kinds of freedom to me.
Having dogs and getting out-of-doors has given me opportunities to practice mindfulness.
I’m able to enjoy the changing seasons and take time out to be aware of my surroundings.