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Dogs enforce New Year’s resolutions

Rosco’s face when asked if he’d like to go to the dog park. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)1 / 2
Juniper climbs a snowbank during a walk last year. (Photo by Teri Cadeau)2 / 2

Last January, I wrote my usual New Year’s Resolution story for the first 2016 issue of the Budgeteer. I decided I ought to come up with a resolution of my own. I’ve asked people about theirs three years in a row. How can I ask such a thing if I don’t make the attempt myself?

Over Christmas weekend, I thought about what I could do that was attainable and consistent. I wanted to make sure I had someone to hold me accountable to my goal. I didn’t want to aim too high, but I didn’t want to make it too easy, either.

While visiting my parents for the holiday, I decided to take our family boxer mix, Rosco, for a walk. As we walked through the frigid December air, I realized that I had already started my resolution. Since September that year, when my parents adopted another dog, Juniper, a medium-sized chihuahua mix, I’d been taking the dogs on walks more regularly. Nearly every time I visited home, I’d end up taking one or both dogs for a walk or two.

Why not make it an official resolution? It’s something that’s good for them and good for me. It helps out my parents and often allowed me to spend quality time with my mother. As it turns out, it was one that was fairly easy to keep.

It was attainable because I didn’t put too many restrictions on myself. I had to take the dogs for a walk once every weekend or day I returned home. But I also wasn’t limited to a single walk per visit. If the weather was decent, Mom and I would each grab a dog and go every day I was home.

I didn’t force myself to go at a specific time or to take a certain route. I didn’t stipulate how long of a walk we had to take, for which I was quite grateful when it was freezing out. In the summer, we’d sometimes go a mile or so. Once last winter, we only made it about three blocks before turning back.

I knew I wouldn’t be able to walk both dogs by myself, so I left leeway to walk only one dog while my mom or sister walked the other, or just walk one dog at a time. I also counted trips to the dog park as I’d still end up walking the perimeter of the park with the dogs. The only difference was that they were leashless and free to roam the park, if they so desired.

My resolution was also fairly consistent. I tend to head up to Gilbert about twice a month throughout most of the year, thought I visit more frequently in the summer.

What helped the most in achieving this resolution? Accountability. I had the best accountability partners possible and they never had to say a word.

Dogs have excellent memories. They also have incredible persuasive skills.

Oftentimes, when I’d find myself sitting in the living room, talking with the parents and crocheting, suddenly there would be a large brown mass at my feet. Rosco would position himself perfectly to make eye contact with me. And he’d stare.

And stare.

And stare.

“Come on, Teri. I know what I want. You know what I want. Let’s not pretend. It’s time for a walk,” his eyes would implore.

Juniper would join the effort by being obnoxious until I said the magic words.

“So, what do you guys think? Would you like to go for a … walk?”

An eruption of excitement. Yes, yes, I think they would like that very much.

If only I could train those dogs into guilting me into going to the gym when I’m miles away here in Duluth.

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

(218) 720-4176
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