My walking partner of eight years is taking a break from walking. I hope it’s only a break anyhow. For the last month my border collie Izzy hasn’t been interested in joining me on my morning walks. Sometimes we will make it to the end of our driveway, she stops, and won’t move until I assure her we will go back in the house. Lately she won’t even look at me when I mention getting harnessed and going out. I feel sad.
Many neighbors have mentioned that they admire that I get Izzy out for a walk no matter what the weather. (After 22 inches of snow, she was ready to go!) They have said, “That dog is so lucky.” What they don’t know is that I need my walks just as much as her. Walking in the morning is like a morning cup of coffee to me. Without it I feel cranky and incomplete. When they say Izzy is lucky, I smile because I know it is me that is lucky. My sweet Izzy has given me so much by simply being my walking partner- routine, motivation, companionship, and so much more. I credit Izzy for guiding me through my worst rheumatoid arthritis days. There were years when the last thing I wanted to do was get out for a walk, but she patiently walked beside me at a snail’s pace. She has been with me on walks where I could shed my tears of pain without my family having to watch. She has taught me to let things go and to just enjoy the very moment I am in. She has also been by my side as the medications starting taking affect and my energy and ability to move improved. She is this woman’s best walking friend.
Last year she took a little break when we had a lot of storms. I chose to stay home with her. This year however, she has taken a long break- about a month. We have had a rainy summer with a lot of humidity. She doesn’t like storms and with age she seems to tire out faster. On a walk in June she overheated and hasn’t been interested in leaving the house again. Needing to get out and get my joints going first thing in the morning, I have been going alone. Many neighbors have asked where Izzy is. I know they think she died. Others don’t recognize me without her. We are a pair. Without her I feel lonely.
I have always told my kids to listen to their bodies. They know what is best for themselves. I am trying to give Izzy the same respect. I ask her every day if she wants to join me and then let it go when she doesn’t. She knows why she doesn’t want to go. And she is not showing any signs of pain. She is still happy to have us chase her around the air conditioned house with a ball or play tug. She does like car rides so I may take her somewhere new and see if she wants to walk there. If not, I’ll just wait until she is ready to be my walking partner again. On that day, I will welcome her with a big smile of relief.