To stroll or not to stroll
First Appeared in the
Santa Barbara News-Press
I started to use a stroller with my late Australian Shepherd, Stormy, when he started rambling slowly, his elbows turned out until he’d stop to stare at me and then lay down with a huff. I purchased the DoggyRide Novel Dog Jogger-Stroller (seen in photo above with some modifications), a deluxe off-road stroller that could be converted to a bike trailer. Stormy rode in style with his adorable black head peering out, smiling at everyone he saw. He barked at seagulls at the beach as we pushed him through deep sand, up to the water’s edge. He watched sunrises and sunsets as he was pushed up mountain fire roads, and shared his love with thousands of people in towns and conventions across the West Coast. Several years into his strolling, as he aged, I had to prop him up with a pillow or open up the front so his legs could stretch out. There is no doubt in my mind that strolling added years to his life. Instead of lying at home on a dog bed staring at the walls, he was out exploring and eating snacks at restaurants. He died at age 16. His last strolling adventure the day before was at his favorite grassy park.
Out in nature, I was confident pushing Stormy’s stroller. “That is so cool,” people would remark. But my introverted self was more self-conscious in town: “Oh my gosh, Laura. I had to stop. I thought you had a baby.”
“No, it’s Stormy,” I would reply, shrinking a little bit in embarrassment, thinking to myself, “Is this what women do when they don’t have kids? Am I that crazy dog lady?” I gave myself a pass. I am The Pet Psychic. What else do people expect?
These feelings came to pass as Stormy’s social media fan club grew. “Ahhh, Stormy,” I would hear as strangers with gleaming faces surrounded the stroller, showering Stormy with love and he looked up at them with his big chestnut eyes and smiled for hundreds of selfies. Cars drove by with children hanging out the windows, screaming, “Hi, Stormy!”
I have sat in many clients’ living rooms, suggesting strollers for their aging or injured dogs. The husbands always stand up, roll their eyes and pace a few steps. “I am not going to take my dog out in a stroller.” The wife crosses her hands in her lap and looks at her dog with a grin, holding herself back from searching Amazon, I surmise. A month later, I am emailed pictures of the husband strolling with the dog at the beach or him posing with the dog, which is in the stroller, at an outdoor restaurant.
“Thank you for convincing me to get a stroller,” a friend once told me as we stood in line at a coffee shop, her two small dogs asleep in their stroller, sheltered by the cover. “People are much more understanding. They are happy I have them contained. I take them into restaurants, stores, hotels and coffee shops all the time. Living in New York City with the dogs is so much easier now. I am so glad I have them off the dirty street until we get to the park.”
A good stroller can be a monetary investment, but it is well worth the price. It’s been 10 years since I purchased Stormy’s stroller, and it has since strolled five other dogs, including, now, a rescue beagle as she loses weight until she can walk the full distance on her own.
Our egos often get in the way of living our lives more fully. Don’t let your ego hold you back. Be happy and take the leap: Experience the joys of strolling with your dog.