Add our physical lethargy to our grief, and what we both needed was to get back to our walking routine.
The thing about losing a dog, whether you were that dog's human or his fellow furry friend, is that the house gets super quiet and feels empty. When Will and Katie are at work and school, I usually spend the quiet time focusing on my writing. But this last week I've been forcing myself to take a break. A walking break. Just me and my girl, Sawyer. For the good of both of us. It's good exercise for our bodies, minds, and souls. When I feel anxious or depressed, there are few things that cheer me up more that a brisk walk. Sawyer agrees, although she would add there's nothing better in this world than leaving your pee trail all around the neighborhood.
We haven't made it out every day, but we've made it out enough days to feel like we're back in the swing of things. Each time I'd reach for the leash, though, I'd feel the loss of Earl. Because we had gone everywhere together as a pack, we only had a double-dog leash. At first, I didn't know what to do with the unused part of the double leash. I couldn't let it drag behind us. That would be too depressing, reminding us of who used to be attached to it.
I figured out that I could just hook both ends to Sawyer's collar. And that worked. But each time I'd reach for the double dog leash to walk a single dog, my heart sank. It was time to get Sawyer her very own leash.
Sawyer's a tennis ball nut. We take her to the dog park to swim in the lake. Katie, or Will, or I will throw the ball into the lake, and Sawyer--half Beagle and half Lab--swims out to retrieve it for us. We never had to train her to do this. From the first time I took Sawyer to the dog park as a puppy, she knew instinctively how to play fetch.
I found the perfect collar and leash set for Sawyer: pink with bright neon-yellow tennis balls. Here she is modeling it after our walk today:
She looks pretty fit for an old lady. Sawyer will be twelve this September. I plan on walking her for as long as she'll let me.