Back in the days before Harry, I used to envisage my life with a dog to be one of boundless activity, where I make my dog’s day simply by taking him out for a stroll and a sniff. Just the prospect of someone picking up the leash has sent every dog I’ve ever known into a frenzied excitement – so when Harry came to live with us last June, it was a shock to discover not all dogs enjoy a daily constitutional.
I love walking and would hike for miles every day given the chance. Harry, however, does not. He’s happiest in the comfort of his bed/our bed/the sofa (much like Him Indoors, come to think of it) and, upon sighting his leash, his first reaction is to run and hide. A gentle tug of encouragement results in Harry rolling onto his back and playing dead. We have tried tempting him out with treats and favourite toys but to no avail (it’s the only time he doesn’t care about playing ball) and, more often than not, we end up carrying him out the door.
Once we’re out, he generally picks up momentum. Although on occasion he will dig his heels in and refuse to move (I have carried him home on more than one occasion) the majority of the time his tail is up and he seems to be enjoying the atmosphere and odours of the great outdoors. We do our best to make things fun; we have a game of ball, a belly scratch – we’ve even embarked on the famous Bondi to Coogee coastal cliff walk, to see if a stunning view might put those paws into action.
At six kilometres, including lots of steep gradients and stairs, it’s a fair hike for your hound. While younger dogs with plenty of energy may lap this up, it was a bit much for 10-year-old Harry so instead we’ve done it in stages over the past months, picking and choosing the most appealing sections to explore.
While dogs must be kept on leashes on the path (and are not allowed on beaches or in Waverley Cemetery), Burrows Park, just south of the cemetery, is a designated off-leash area with plenty of opportunity for sniffing and socialising. Along the route there are picnic shelters, barbecues and toilets, so it’s easy to make a leisurely day of it. You can detour to cafes in Bronte, Clovelly and Coogee, or Clovelly Bowling Club has outdoor benches where you can enjoy a pint and a pit-stop with your pup.
Unfortunately, not even one of the world’s most scenic walks can change Harry’s attitude towards leaving the house. Every time we return home, he still races to the front door, tail wagging and jumping up, scratching to be let in. Kind of how every other dog behaves when they’re about to be taken for a walk.
This reluctance to walk pre-dates Harry’s time with us. When we first walked him at Monika’s Doggie Rescue, we were told he didn’t like to leave the gate and may need to be carried out. I thought it would be a temporary problem, one that would resolve itself once he felt secure in his new home.
We are at a loss as to what to try next so if anyone has any tips on how to make our daily walk a happier occasion, we’d love to hear from you. You can contact us via Facebook, Twitter or at firstname.lastname@example.org.