You see it all the time on television commercials or HGTV programs featuring people house hunting with a dog. A single person decides to take her dog for a walk, so she snaps on a leash and heads out the door of her recently renovated dream house.
Ah, the fantasy! That is not AT ALL how it works around my house — and not just because my front door tends to stick. Here, in a nutshell, is what it takes for me to just get out the door with my four dachshunds in tow:
- Check the temperature on the computer.
- If more than 40 degrees and less than 70 degrees (Fahrenheit — the doxies get confused by Celsius), step outside to rate the level of rainfall from moderate to “Get the floaties!”
- If it is not currently pouring, and it is under 50 degrees, grab four sweaters from the laundry area. Check to make sure none are still muddy from yesterday’s outing. Notice that laundry hasn’t been done for weeks. Nor has trash been taken out. Attempt to put these chores out of my mind.
- Grab four harnesses because walking dogs, especially long dogs, by hooking a leash to their collar will result in multiple veterinary chiropractic visits.
- Put microwavable hot pack in microwave.
- Attempt to put sweaters and harnesses on four dogs, two of whom are so excited, they express their emotion by playing a 15-minute-long game of “catch me if you can” despite my argument that if they really wanted to go for a walk, they’d let me put their gear on them.
- Make a note that I may need (more) therapy.
- Clean up the piddle from one of the excited dogs.
- Go to the bathroom because cleaning up piddle does that to me and I’m not allowed to do it on the floor. Well, I’m allowed, but I’d have to clean that up too.
- Wake the old guy up from his nap and tell him he can nap in the stroller.
- Put on my own jacket. Fill pockets with training treats for the puppy, poo bags, garage remote control, keys, cell phone, note for whoever might find me unconscious in the street with one or more leashes wrapped around my ankles…
- Attach leashes to three of the dogs’ harnesses.
- Toss hot pack around my neck and enjoy a few seconds of relaxing warmth.
- Grab the old guy and carry him outside while managing three leashed crazy animals who are trying to run back inside because this is Oregon and of course it has started raining in earnest now. And on Ernest. And also Watson, Penny, Murry, Justin and me.
- Open the garage door and drag/carry all dogs inside.
- Place old guy in stroller. Unleash tiny girl who no longer goes for walks because she once watched Downtown Abbey and knows it is beneath her station. Put her in stroller next to her brother.
- Toss blanket on top of dogs in stroller, then put heating pad on top of that. Then, wrap beach towel around their necks like a makeshift scarf because no one sells dog mufflers for those with long necks and a unique sense of doggy fashion.
- Clip biggest dog to carabiner attached to stroller.
- Set puppy’s flexi-lead to stun. I mean, short.
- Leave the garage and head outside where the sun is now shining. Close garage door.
- Begin walk.
- Wish I’d brought a snack for myself because now I’m starving.
- Open garage door because we’re at the end of the driveway and it is raining heavily again and the dogs are in sweaters, not raincoats and will demand I walk directly above them with the umbrella opened even if one of them is chasing squirrels while the other tends to business of another type.
Don’t even get me started on the walk itself. We DO NOT have time.