There are times when our exponentially growing puppy Harvey drives me nuts. As when he and I were trying to share the kitchen today while it was raining outside. I was making potato, onion and arugula soup; he was wanting to play. He was biting at my jeans legs, sandals and, yes, even my stomach one time as he “played” with me while I imposed stern but futile reprimands and time outs in the crate before giving up altogether and leaving him in his manmade den until the rain subsided.
But twice a day, Harvey brings me a little peace. This is because he has finally (with the help of a gentle leader) learned to walk beautifully on a loose leash for 20 minute intervals or more. So he and I are making a ritual of power walking our way down to the park and back – once in the morning while Rob finishes up breakfast with the kids and once after dinner. I love this excuse to take a brisk walk, just me and a happy dog who seems so well behaved for those moments when he’s getting to go full steam ahead like a little hyperactive spaniel-lab mix is apparently in need of doing. I’m getting more regular exercise than I have in months along with some quiet moments for myself.
Of course there are also the times when the boys want to accompany me for a Harvey walk when Rob isn’t around. This makes for the opposite of a Zen walk.
I’ll strap Owen into the stroller, suit Will up for a bike ride and get Harvey in his gentle leader. Then we make our way down the street like a little circus parade, Harvey growling at the stroller and trying to bite the wheels if I don’t hold him back, me barking orders at Will as he gets too far out in the road, Owen riding quietly in his stroller, stunned into silence by the spectacle of it all. Usually, at some point in the journey, I promise myself I’ll never try it again, but somehow we’ve done it multiple times anyway.
I thought of our slightly crazy dog-and-kid walks for some reason, when I heard this NPR story today about walking school buses today. I love the idea of promoting kids walking to school, but I have to admit that the walking school bus conjures up visions of minor chaos for me. Still, if I ever live in a neighborhood with a walking school bus, I’d love to send my kids on it and I’ll help "drive" it too.