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 March 2010 - Nr. 3
Happy Easter - Frohe Ostern

My Dog Teaches … Exercise

Hunny by David McKagueI recently read an article in which some experts declared that they had just come to the conclusion that children were better behaved and did better in school if they had daily exercise. Well, it certainly doesn’t give one much confidence in these so-called experts if they are just figuring this out! Anyone who has had kids (or dogs) already knows this well. Leave a dog at home all day without giving it enough exercise, and you are quite likely to come back to a mess. Overturned garbage cans, chewed shoes, stuffed toys pulled apart, clothes strewn around are usually just evidence that one has not given his dog enough exercise, even though this is sometimes erroneously explained away as “mischievous or bad behavior”.

Of course, intellectually we all know that exercise is important for our general health and well-being. While this is good in theory, it is sometimes difficult for us to get off the couch from in front of the TV to engage in some strenuous physical activity. Most often, the difficulty is in overcoming the initial inertia to get started; once we accomplish this, it is usually easier to continue. (As an aside, while diet is certainly a factor, the problem many of us seem to have with putting on weight in most cases traces back to not getting enough exercise.)

Events like the Winter Olympics just finished are a reminder that our bodies were meant to be worked, pushed, pulled, run, twisted, twirled, stretched and generally put to use. Of course, when we are looking at the best in the world, we know that they are pushing their bodies to the limits of strength and endurance that far surpass the goals we would have for ourselves. But still, we can admire the grace, athleticism and intensity of these magnificent athletes, which is why sport has such an appeal.

As dogs go, Hunny is certainly a Gold-Medal performer. While she has lost quite a bit of the speed she had when she was younger, she has certainly not lost her stamina. Even at seven years old (middle-aged for a dog), in the cooler weather she can still play fetch and retrieve the tennis ball for an hour and a half or, on occasion, two hours without stopping. And she has a talent that I have never seen in any other dog and which astonishes many people when they first see it; I can throw the ball high in the air and she will run and catch it before it hits the ground. Even though I have been watching her do this for almost six years, sometimes she will make a catch that amazes even me.

One of the advantages of having a dog is that it does help in making sure we get out every day for some exercise. Hunny is very persistent in letting me know that we need to get out to the park, even in the extreme cold in the dead of winter.

It is Hunny’s need for vigorous daily exercise that brings me to the dog park every day, despite the fact that this is potentially dangerous for her and me. You see, here in Ontario, the Dog Owners’ Liability Act goes out of its way to make it virtually impossible for certain types of dogs to be adequately exercised. It requires that they be leashed and muzzled at all times anywhere and everywhere except in their own homes or fenced-in yard. Even leash-free dog parks are out of bounds. This restriction by itself (without considering the other injustices it brings about) is what makes Ontario’s law so asinine. According to Cesar Milan (the Dog Whisperer on TV) exercise is THE most important requirement for any dog, much more so than affection. Yet here the law makes it, in practice, illegal to provide that essential for some dogs.

I can’t imagine what life would be like for Hunny (or me) if she couldn’t chase the ball. It is precisely because I make sure that she gets enough exercise that I have a very calm, obedient and extremely friendly dog. The dog park, for Hunny, is a “people park”; she could care less about the other dogs, but she will quite happily introduce herself to every person in the park by dropping the ball at their feet, inviting them to throw it.

The lesson is clear. If we want well-behaved dogs (and kids) we need to make sure that they get enough exercise. And it’s really not such a bad idea for ourselves, either.

Previous "Petitorial" articles by David McKague:

Editor’s note: I would like to encourage dog lovers everywhere to start a PETITION to have this law thrown out or revised to such a form where justice prevails. SFR.

Email to David McKague
David McKague talks about the pit-bull or pit bulls, pets, dogs, the duress put upon dog and the owners, especially through laws in Ontario, Canada, that affect and encroach on rights and freedoms of the individual, human rights, reputation of individuals and owners. David stresses the importance of being responsible and understanding when dealing with pets.

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