As you're probably aware, Florida is hot. Most of Florida really doesn't have "seasons." Down south they have "my face is melting" and "oh, it'll take me 20 minutes to get a sunburn" as their seasons. Way up here in the panhandle, just south of the Georgia border we actually have something more akin to seasons. It's not like up north, north, though. Our fall basically just means that there's much less humidity and the temps are only gonna reach 85-88. The mornings, though, are quite awesome. we'll get down in the lower 70's.
We have 3 DK9s. A short, stocky, blind dachshund; a mutt we were told was lab-border collie mix; and a Great Pyrenees. The GP is a 120 lbs. giant, white, hair-shedding, lovable fluff ball. When we adopted her nearly 11 years ago, we had no idea what we were getting into...I mean, the interwebs explained to us that she wasn't going to be an obedient dog, so we knew that much. But, we didn't think about the mountains of hair she would shed in a week or the fact that afternoon walks in the summer just wouldn't be any fun for her. I've tried to be the dog owner that walks there dogs for a good hour every day (except the little dachshund, and hour of walking for her is roughly the equivalent of you or I running a marathon). I learned during the first year of having the GP that walking her after work in the summer was pretty mean. She didn't lay down and collapse in neighbors yards, but her tongue would become roughly as wide as my wife's Kia Soul as she panted her way through the walk. I decided that subjecting her to that was more akin to punishment than it was enjoyable for her. So, the dog-walking was switched to before work. Ever since, I've been getting up at 5 a.m. to walk the big dogs. I think they've enjoyed not being subjected to the summer heat...and I've learned to love that early morning solitude.
For years, the walk was a half mile loop to the west of my house; then, just before the intersection of the street before my street, at a storm drain, we'd turn for a three-quarters of a mile loop to the south. Sometimes, we'd zig-zag up and down a couple of side streets to add a little extra if they were feeling it.
The years have gone by and the girls have gotten older. The GP has developed arthritis; and it's slowed her down quite a bit. I talked to her doctor about walking her, and he still wants her walking as much as she wants to. He said to just let her dictate the walks. The lab mix, though, is still strong and happy. Most of the time now, the GP will continue to head towards home; but, sometimes, she'll stop at the storm drain just before the intersection where we've turned onto the south loop for the last decade. She'll either start pulling that direction or she'll just stop and look, apparently longing for the days gone by when she would walk and sniff her way around that loop, before deciding to continue towards the house. On the days that the GP goes home early, the lab mix and I head back out, after dropping the GP off at the house, for a brisk walk on the south loop.
This week has seen a return to fall for us. It's been warm, but comfortable, in the afternoons and nowhere near as humid as it has been for the last several months. The mornings have been gorgeous, with a refreshing breeze. The skies have been clear and the stars beautiful. The other day, the GP wanted to turn towards the south but I was in too much of a rush to be able to take the extra time. I stopped, petted her head, and promised that, if she felt like it, I would take her to do that loop before the end of the week. I was sad that I didn't have the time to do that extra loop with her.
It was pretty again this morning and I spent most of the loop going to the west looking at the skies, wondering, thoughts wandering, and letting the DK9s walk and sniff 'til their hearts were content. As we made our way back toward the house, we arrived at that storm drain and stopped. She sniffed her usual spot right next to it as I stood and watched. She pulled at the leash, wanting to cross to the south loop and I smiled.
The three of us wandered slowly around that loop, I enjoyed the stars and the breeze and they enjoyed walking, sniffing, and just being dogs. When we approached the street that we normally turn on to do our zig zag, the GP gently pulled that direction. I let her slowly, gently lead the way. The first part up that street is a pretty steep uphill, especially for her now. But, she continued to slowly climb it; content with her pace. As we made our way back up our street, she slowed. It wasn't that pained, lumbering slowing down that she does as she nears the end of what she can do for that day. She was dilly-dallying, hoping to extend the time that we could be outside.
As I left to come to work, I told my wife that she had done the whole walk. She knows when we're talking about her, and she lifted her head to listen. She smiled a tired, but content smile and laid her head back down on the flloor. It was a good morning.