Most people don’t think of walking a dog as being a particularly strenuous workout. Generally, neither do I. Come winter, however, it’s a whole other story.
To understand why, you first have to meet Charlie.
Charlie is a four-year-old mix of German shepherd, great Dane, and husky. This means that Charlie is big (all 127 pounds of him), and that he’s energetic. He also loves the cold, so no matter how low our temperatures go, he needs to get in a daily run so that he doesn’t drive us all nuts pacing the house. Because I somehow got myself elected Chief Dog Walker, the task of taking him out in all weathers falls to me. During the summer, it couldn’t be easier: slip into shoes, grab the leash, and head for the door. At minus 30-something Celsius (roughly the same on the Fahrenheit scale), it’s a little more complicated…and it takes a whole lot more energy. Here’s what a typical walk looks like:
Time: 20 minutes
This entails donning multiple layers of clothing: long underwear, pants, and snow pants; turtleneck and sweater; two pairs of socks; winter boots, winter coat, scarf, and hat; and at the more extreme temperatures, gloves inside my mittens. By the time I’m ready, I’ve already worked up a sweat, Charlie has curled up on the floor and dozed off, and I weigh roughly 40 lbs more than I did when I started.
Time: 10 minutes
Charlie loves nothing more than a good romp through the woods. Fortunately, I do too. We have two off-leash dog parks within easy access to our home, both of which offer awesome trails. Driving there while dressed up to resemble the Michelin Tire Man, however, can be challenging and is a mini-workout in itself.
p style=”text-align: center;”>Time: 40-50 minutes
When we arrive at the trail, Charlie races off, crashing through the underbrush. Still packing that extra 40 lbs of clothing–and with oxygen intake at half-capacity because of the scarf double-wrapped around my face–I set off at a lumberingly brisk walk, fast enough to (hopefuly) avoid freezing solid before the end of the trail. Depending on conditions, I might wade through knee-deep powder, stagger and slip across uneven ice, or slog through wet, heavy drifts. (With his four-paw drive and long legs, Charlie doesn’t seem to notice the difference.)
By the time we’re done, I’m decidedly out of breath, various body parts are overheated and others are devoid of feeling, my eyelashes have frozen together because of the moisture from my breath, and I’m ready for a nap.
And Charlie? He’s ready to go around the trail again!