Dog Walking in the time of Corona! (I should not take credit for this title because Gabriel Garcia Marquez really came up with it in his book, Love in the time of Cholera, but he will not mind me riffing on it a bit...All is fair in Social Distancing (another literary reference, Francis Edward Smedley, holla!) This is the longest title, and it has not one, but two parenthetical notes in it. This feels like a Gold Medal for English Studies folks!)

March 23, 2020

 

Whew!  Now that I got the title out of the way, I can really get down to the nitty gritty of being a dog walker now.  I am 4 days into TMM closing down because of the restrictions dictated by Governor Wolf. It is a bit scary because we don’t know how well social distancing is working (or if it’s being taken seriously) and if we will be up and running after the 2 weeks or if it's going to be longer.  Our clients have been amazing and keeping our spirits up in this crazy time and for that we are forever grateful. But I am not here to write about fear or economic instability, I am here to talk about how I, Nikki Rockwell, have been handling social distancing without my beloved daily pups! And let me tell ya, it isn't pretty. 

 

So as you may or may not know, we dog-walkers often walk 10-12 miles a day with all of our best friends.  It sounds like a lot of walking, and it is, but we acclimate to it pretty quickly. I know what you are thinking, “Gee Nikki, without all of those dogs to walk, how are you using up all that energy and not driving your wife, who is now working from home, crazy?”  The short answer, I am not. I am basically buzzing around my house, telling Carolyn to look at the cats and dog doing cute things (She posits that they are just looking normal...I respectfully disagree), and singing some songs. So I’ve been starting to do what I do best, walk dogs!

 

So my little Chicken is a sturdy dog.  She is a 13 lb Yorkie mix that is basically down for any and all adventures.  She is not a lap dog, she is a “Let’s hike up a mountain and I will circle you the whole way” dog.  So I strap on my K9 sports pack with back-up water, buckle Chicken into her harness, and start walking around the city.  I am thinking “This will be great! I will just walk my own dog to help with my energy and she will feel happy and active during this whole mess!”  

 

Something I didn’t account for...Chicken’s tiny legs. My legs are pretty short (on average, I walk about 1.5 steps to a normal person’s one step.  I am blessed) and she still has to trot quite quickly to keep up. And like I said, she's a hearty pup. When she's off leash she runs in circles the whole time. But it turns out we never hike as far as I walk in one day of pup wrangling. So about 4 or 5 miles into a walk, Chicken’s tiny legs are like “Nope.” She always lets us know that she is tired when she tries to go into people’s houses like “OK, Well I live here now!  Come back and visit!” So we have to take a break...am I ready for said break? Nope, but The Chicken Spoketh! 

 

Another added complication with walking the Chick while social distancing: wanting to say “Hi” to all of the other dogs on our walks.  I should clarify, I am the one that wants to say “Hi”, not Chicken.  Chicken mostly barks and tries to convince other dogs that she will eat them, one tiny chomp at a time.  When Carolyn comes along with us during walks, and I see another pup, I usually give Carolyn the leash so I can walk over and do some squishen and some people talking. Neither Carolyn nor Chicken is a huge fan of this. Chicken often barks at me with a scolding “Et Tu Mama?” (Another literary reference!  I am on fire!). And Carolyn is not as extroverted as I. 

 

But Alas, I cannot do that anymore either!  One, because of social distancing, and two, NikkiChick Corona walks (coined phrase) are a duet, not a trio, because Carolyn has to work.  So now I am crossing the street and yelling from the other side “I am sorry! I think you are adorable and I wish I could squish your face!”  (I say this to the dog, not the person. I am not THAT extroverted!). If you think I am exaggerating, you don’t know me.  

 

Walking Chicken really does help with the social distancing thing though.  Lots of people don’t seem to give the 6” feet clearance recommended by the CDC and I, being of a goodly sort, want to comply with as much social distancing as possible.  However, the extrovert in me hates distancing myself from anyone; it feels cold and unnatural and I get a little embarrassed to do it (yes, I do feel embarrassed from time to time). I know, you are asking, “So what are you doing to be goodly, Nikki?”  Well, I am glad you asked. I am using my sweet, bossy, muppet of a dog, that really actually loves people, as my scapegoat. I step between cars, have her sit and I say “Be a good girl, don’t be bad.” And people just assume that my tiny angel Chicken will do a attac.  Chick, of course, is sitting like a good girl, waiting for treats and wondering while she is sitting between bumpers; but in the time of Corona, you gotta do what you got to do to survive. Some people stay indoors, some people wear masks, Me? I avoid socially awkward situations. 

 

 

 

 

 

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