Monday, April 16, 2012

To pack or not to pack...

For the past week, I have been sick. (Insert feeling sorry for me here).

Being sick sucks a lot. It sucks for me because, well, I feel like shit. It sucks for hubby because I whine more than any man I know (and because I snore louder than my grandfather - the world's worst snorer - when my sinuses are blocked). And it sucks for the Beast because it means that he and I can't go for our morning runs. (Which in turn sucks for hubby and I because it means that the wee Beastie has a te-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-e-ny bit more energy to burn off at the end of the day).

It's a vicious cycle, really...

Anyway, because the pooch is going on day 8 of no running with mommy, I decided that I would take him out for a nice long afternoon stroll to the Arboretum. That way, I could at least let him off leash and let him run around like a deranged monkey for a little while. And I've been cooped up for a week too, so a little fresh air can't hurt, right?

Due to unseasonably warm temperatures (+30C with the humidex), I knew that I would need to load up on water (some for him and some for me). After all, he does run around a lot when he's there, peeing on every single tree he can find. And I get hoarse from yelling out "Hustle!!!" whenever he wanders off a little too far. Then there are his toys to bring, at least two of them: one for him to play with, and another in case one of his puppy friends decides to steal the original toy, an all-too-regular occurrence in any dog park. Then I had to make sure we had poop bags. And my blackberry because I'm dealing with something rather urgent at work and was expecting a few messages. And my personal cell phone in case my husband had to get a hold of me. And of course, my house keys.

Now carrying all of this is a serious pain in the ass, especially when your preferred dog park attire is a pair of pocketless Joe Fresh yoga pants and a Bruce Springsteen concert t-shirt. I suppose I could buy one of those dog walking utility belts that has room for your poop bags, your keys, a tennis ball, and a water bottle:

But that just looks like a fancy fanny pack to me (no matter how stylish you try to make it by putting it on a skinny model and getting her to strike a pose for the picture). And I don't wear fanny packs. What am I, an eighty-five year old tourist?

No, instead I bought myself one of these little sling packs from Mountain Equipment Co-op, and carry this around with me on almost every dog walk:

Admittedly, it's not that much better than a fanny pack. Except that it's not a fanny pack, which makes me feel slightly superiour. (Only slightly). And it does the job of carrying poop bags, balls, a ball chucker, water, mobile phones, and yadda yadda yadda.

Today, however, I couldn't even be bothered to carry this tiny little sling pack, because, well, whatever illness this is that has taken over my body, I get absolutely winded at the slightest little exertion. Standing up leaves me gasping for air. So a 5k walk to the Arboretum, through the Arboretum, and back from the Arboretum was going to be challenging enough without having to lug all of the the Beast's (and my own) junk around with me. Water gets heavy, you know!

Luckily for me, the Beast has a doggy backpack. So I strapped that sucker on him and decided to let him do the heavy lifting!

I should pause here and admit that the doggy backpack was perhaps not one of my most brilliant purchases. I bought it because of The Dog Whisperer. There was an episode where this family had three deranged border collies, and one of them was a disaster on a walk, and Cesar put him in a backpack and POW!! he walked like an angel. Of course, this is the problem with a show like The Dog Whisperer. You don't actually see how long it takes behind the scenes to capture those three minutes of perfect dog walking that end up making the cut. So you end up believing that a backpack has some magical kind of power that will stop your dog from pulling you around the minute you strap it on him. And when you are desperately trying to teach your brand new dog how to walk nice on a leash, you say to yourself, "Self, let's go down to the pet store and buy us a doggy backpack so that this damn dog doesn't wrench my arm out of the socket!"

Which is exactly what I did. And you probably will not be surprised to learn that it doesn't stop the Beast from pulling. And it doesn't calm him down and get him focused on walking either, which is what it is supposed to do. Nope - when the Beast feels like being a gong show on four legs, it is not a backpack that is going to fix that. It's a horse tranquilizer. And I don't think I'm allowed to give him one of those...

What a backpack does do, however, is give me a place to put my things (and his, of course) when my dog park pants don't have pockets or when I don't want to carry that ugly MEC sling pack. And come to think of it, each pouch on his backpack could easily hold a bottle of wine, so I could probably take him on an LCBO run with me some day and carry back twice as much as I could on my own!  Sweet!

Now I can't say that the Beast loves being my pack mule carrying all of that stuff around. I kind of have to coax him into the backpack by bribing him with dog treats and slipping the harness over his head while he's distracted by liver. But once he has the backpack on, he is perfectly fine. See how carefree he looks? (Not to mention freakishly long... What is he, part wiener dog?)

Ears back = stress free!
Despite the Beast's relaxed backpack-toting demeanor, there are some in my neighbourhood who think that it is downright cruel to be getting my dog to do all of this "work" for me. Even though I don't make him wear it very often, I have received more than one comment about his pack. Like the short, fat dude who was hanging out on the corner outside the convenience store today. When the Beast and I walked by, he started flailing his hands in the air and screaming,"What's the matter with you, making your dog carry stuff. That's cruel!" I felt like saying, "Yeah, you're right, dude. Taking my dog for a 5+km walk when I'm sick and bringing him to his favourite place in the whole wide world is really, really mean of me. Maybe I should just turn around and bring him back home so he can sit around and feel sorry for himself for ending up with such a shitty owner."

Instead I ignored him and kept walking. And kept thinking about how I could spin this into some deep fable-esque story with a moral and a happy ending for my blog.

But there isn't really a moral to a story about a girl who is sick so she makes her dog wear a not-oft-worn backpack so that she doesn't have to carry his stuff and who gets yelled at by some short, fat stranger on the street.

So instead, I took another picture:

This one is of the Beast, wearing his backpack, with the wind blowing through his ear fur. (It was really windy on our way to the Arboretum).

And just as I was snapping the picture, some super cute couple looked over at me and said, "Ahhhh! He's so cute with his little backpack!"

Damn right he is! I should make him wear it every day! Especially since he has been in this position ever since we got back from our walk:

Which means that sick mommy can lie around on the couch feeling sorry for herself guilt free for the rest of the night.

I love that backpack!