Over the hills doggedly

I do not recall where I heard that having a dog to walk was a sure means to get exercise. I have had dogs to walk for most of my life, but in the last twenty years I have needed them more than I care to admit. Yet for all the guys in their Forties and younger jogging, cycling, or playing games, while their dogs trot, run, or gallop along with them – I have not had that experience in all that time. Partly because of local leash ordinances, partly because my dogs have never followed my lead wholeheartedly, and sadly, mostly because I have not been an exercise fanatic since my early military career days.

Because the lack of exercise due to all the COVID closures the only real exercise was working in my garden and taking the dogs for their walk. Inconsistently my wife and I have walked up the fire road that connects our neighborhood to Santee’s Sky Ranch neighborhood atop the ridge. We would take Dexter and Comet off-leash up there, though it was obvious to anyone that Comet was not enthusiastic about the exertion. Dexter, on the other hand, though nine years old was almost giddy seeking rabbits, and bounding uphill smelling some coyote scat. While our children used to climb the boulders and hunt for rattlesnakes, nearly twenty years ago, the subdivision that now occupies the ridge still provides an amazing view. The elevation change provides a workout while the loop at three and a half miles over the ridge and back home means I wouldn’t likely need to get picked up if my legs gave out. The highest point of Sky Ranch is roughly the same as it is for Mission Trails, around 850 feet, so for a stout (that is, out-of-shape) old sailor the path has been beneficial to work off those Häagen-Dazs ice cream bars.

View from Sky Ranch west: El Cajon, and in the distance, La Mesa (center), and Mission Trails Park (mountains)

The evils of Costco notwithstanding, I covered the same circuit again this morning, accompanied by my wife. When Sheri and I usually take the dogs with us, I left them looking disappointed as we aimed for the door without the dog leashes. (The dogs did not accompany us.) An hour later, it was time to get a few things for a small socially-distant dinner party tonight. A couple more hours of outdoor chores cleaning up for this evening. I still owe the dogs a walk, but they will have a better time this evening after everything winds down and in the cool.

My plans? I might just spend the rest of the afternoon dozing on the couch.

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