10,000 Steps: Why Your Dog Has a Better Life Than You Do

When you think about it, dogs are living way better lives than we are now. I just spent the past two hours running back and forth in my yard moving sprinklers. I felt just like a 1970s dog, living out back in a doghouse tied to a chain. With my hoses as tethers, I could only go so far. No self-respecting dog would be caught dead out in the backyard sitting in a dirt spot these days. Oh, no! They’ve got to get back from the groomer’s by 10 as their personal trainer will be showing up to take them out for the day. When did we switch places with our pooches?

Sprinkle Sprinkle

Having a back, front and side yard to take care of, I am moving and adjusting sprinklers and hoses, sometimes many times, to make sure they don’t water the house or the driveway too much. I have three types of sprinklers, four hoses hooked up to two dividers on two outside taps, back and front.

This is what I do every second day around here – all summer long. I didn’t get much time to sit and enjoy my coffee this morning and I realized something: all newer houses have underground sprinklers.  Most older house owners either have them installed or tear out their lawns altogether. Their owners sit around on a deck sipping cappuccino, no doubt, the lawn a lush green as it’s been watered at 4AM. Or trying to ignore all the weeds coming through their zeriscaping.

Blowing Hot Air

Because my house is older, I also spend a lot of time opening windows and blinds and setting fans to strategically blow the warm air outside every morning. I go around closing the windows as the sun moves around the house. I do this morning and night, in reverse. While I do have the luxury of an air conditioner, the poor old thing cannot keep up when it gets to 34° or more outside. I’ve sewn bolsters and blackout curtains for the worst windows and dream of replacing them all one day. People in newer houses set their thermostat and laze about on chaise lounges, I’m sure.

Well, until they check their smart watches and realize they haven’t got enough steps in today – the horror!

Still, I wouldn’t trade them places. Not them but maybe their dogs. It’s the dogs who have it made now.

Watch This!

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say something controversial: I think those watches that track every step are hideous. Not just hideous but insidious. It’s like they worm their way into your life, kind of preparing you for the creepy AI that’s coming soon to everything near you.

The truth is: I don’t need a watch to tell me I’ve been lazy or slept like crap – believe me, I know.

My ex-boyfriend had one and wore it constantly. He was so disconnected from his body, he needed a watch to tell him if he’d moved enough or even slept enough, day and night. It was ridiculous and I used to tease him about it. Truthfully, I was jealous – he paid more attention to that watch than he ever did to me.

Now I see that nearly everyone has a step tracking watch.

Stairway to Heaven – 1971

These are the same people who haven’t spent the morning running around their house setting sprinklers or moving fans. They drive to the gym to run on a treadmill, seeing no irony in it. I am sure most of these watch people have every convenience in their homes, too, like built-in vacuums so they just don’t know the burn of hauling a Dyson up a long set of stairs with one arm.

Wait a minute! Stairs? Who would build a house with so many stairs like this one nowadays? All the downsizing Boomers specify “everything on one level” or buy a place without a yard. Who wants to retire in a split level houses like mine? (Buying a Fixer-Upper: Back to 1975, Baby! ) I’ve got stairs to get in the front door or out the back, two long staircases inside and one short run plus the bonus sunken living room because, hey! the builder figured there weren’t enough stairs already!

Is it any wonder Mrs. Brady was slender, even if Alice did most everything around her house? You never saw her on a stair-master, that’s for sure. Or walking the dog.

Basically, if it wasn’t chained up, you just opened the door and the dog went outside to get his exercise. Presumably chasing cats and trying to eat them. They were always getting into garbage. Only rich people actually fed their dogs.

Just Hire Someone

In the 70s most real people had to do all their own housework, as well. Now anyone who has any spare cash has cleaning people that do all the physical housework. (Mostly women, as my smart daughter would remind me.) There are companies that will do all your gardening or landscaping, too. No one does their own yardwork in the big cities.

No, they’re all at the gym, checking their smart watches to see what’s going on.

Your Dog: Living His Best Life

I have a cousin in the big city and when I was visiting her the doorbell rang. Her dog went nuts. He’s a big fella and full of beans. Standing at the door were two very fit, smiling women with several excited dogs prancing around them. They were picking up my cousin’s dog to take him on his daily hike up some mountain– a grueling hike that sounded damn good, if I’m being honest. I wish I’d gone with the dog. She pays these women to take her dog hiking every day.

That’s right, the dog gets to go hiking somewhere different every day. Apparently, he’s far from alone. Other dogs have a daily visit to “doggy daycare” so that they have a fun day playing with their hound friends.

There is just something so off about this. When your dog is fit and happy, and having a better life than you are – and not even tracking his steps! – where did you go wrong?!

When your dog is fit and happy, and having a better life than you are – and not even tracking his steps! – where did you go wrong?!

Cook This

Food, too – the shopping for it, planning meals, and – egads! – actual cooking of it, is hired out. If more people did their own cooking, they could probably toss their watches. It’s not just the hauling of the groceries up all those stairs; it’s the fresh, healthy nature of the actual meal. Again, the meal planning and cooking used to be done by women and mama! She is at the gym, on the treadmill and getting in her 10,000. Talk about pressure. Another thing added to her plate. (I sure hope she isn’t “Nooming,” too.)

As for dogs, they’re on special diets to optimize their nutrition with supplements designed to enhance their coats or their teeth, and to aid their digestion. They have regular appointments to have their nails trimmed and their eyes and ears checked. I hope you do, too.

Nag That

Besides the counterintuitive nature of all this step tracking bullshit, there is the added stress of it that bugs me. Instead of making your life more pleasant, you have a constant nag with you, everywhere you go – first thing in the morning to late at night.

You could be at a pub, a few pints in, telling a fantastic story to a group of your ne’er do well friends when your watch will pipe up and tell you you’re an abject failure. The day is waning and you’ve only gotten 2,000 steps in, you loser.

Honestly, if I wanted to be nagged 24/7 I’d have stayed married. ;/

Maybe that’s the bottom line: some people need to be nagged to get their exercise in or to go to bed. Maybe people miss their Mothers – the traditional kind that had the time to nag. I guess because my Mother left me to my own devices (heavy on the “vices”), I learned early to discipline (more or less) and regulate myself. It should be noted that this is an ongoing process. I’m only 57 after all.

Live the Life of a New Dog!

You can see why I chafe at any outward restriction now. A smartwatch would only annoy me and cause my blood pressure to rise. If I had one, I’d want to divorce it. It would be messy, too, with accusations made on both sides. The watch would be put out and accuse me of avoiding or just plain ignoring it. More often than not I’d “forgotten” it at home in a sock drawer, preferring to go to the aforementioned pub or out dog hiking with a naked wrist instead. Guilty as charged.

My point is that if you set your life up right, you won’t need some watch to nag you all the time. Just make sure you live with as little convenience as possible. Don’t make too much extra money or you might be tempted to hire a housekeeper or a gardener. And for God’s sake walk your own dog!


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