There is nothing worse than walking alone, especially without your best friends. I have barely taken any walks since Chance, Blaze and Fiona died. And while I walk with Zappa, when he could walk, the walks were very short and slow. Just the facts of walking with an elderly dog.
Every day I'd wake up and say I was going to take myself for a walk and almost every day I failed. I just couldn't bare the thought of going alone without my protectors. It started to become unbearable when my body would revolt against me. All of this pent up anxiety and energy I had gave me torturing leg cramps to the point I was standing up while watching our evening show. I couldn't relax and the only other thing that made it tolerable was laying down. Most of the time all this tension was at night, but there were times during the day when my legs would act up.
And I still couldn't walk myself. I made due with the times I was able to walk Zappa and that helped some, but I really needed to burn off some steam. Every day asking for this to be the day and 99% of the time, I still couldn't do it. Even with all the physical and mental anguish, I didn't want to go for that lonely walk. I wanted one of dogs to go with me. I needed them for my self-confidence. I needed them for the distraction. I needed them for the communication and connection. How was I going to give myself what the dogs had always gave me? How could I do that??
I didn't know. But this past month the pain was so intolerable, I had my coat on and was out the door before I could stop myself or even realize what I was doing. I walked to the corner and back. I had finally done it...walked without a physical dog. Down the road, out in the open for anyone to see me. Walking alone, with my self consciousness flaring like a beacon and still I walked on. All the way to the corner, where I did a 180° turn and came back with my breathing starting to slow as the fear and stress released from my body one step at a time.
Now I'm walking on a regular basis. All I have to do is remember how bad my legs get at night and I am pushing myself to do it. It is a good feeling. I don't like walking without a dog, I never will, but for now that is what I must do. I know the dogs are there in spirit, but for the most part this is my own personal battle between me and myself. Maybe I will never get over my insecurities, but I will be stronger for the next dog, because I had the blessings of walking with Chance, Blaze, Fiona, Brut and Silver who all gave me something to grasp to...themselves.
I just look better and feel better with a dog next to me. :)