Every day, usually after dinner, I take our dogs for a walk. One could just as easily say that my dogs take me. They compel me. The older dog will come rest his head on my knee, beseeching. The younger dog--not so young any more--will sit near the front door, watching for the slightest indication of my getting ready.
When the time comes, they literally jump for joy, eyes shining. They can barely contain themselves as I clip on their leashes. Can you imagine feeling this excited about something that you do every day?
Some nights, I'm not up for walking. I usually go anyway, because I know that it's good for me. It is a scientific fact that it is better to give than to receive, and therein lies the greatness of dogs. They make giving easy. I always come home feeling better than when I left. Some of their happiness goes into me, and whatever cares I've accumulated through the day are diminished.
I also understand that my opportunities to walk with each of them are limited. They are ten and twelve years old. Our vet assures us they are in great shape for their age, and because they are smaller dogs, they might each live to be eighteen or twenty.
Then again, they might not.
Then again, even if they did, when the time does come to say goodbye, I know that all I'll want is one more walk. If you are lucky enough to have a dog in your life, there's a good chance you'll feel the same.
So get off the couch, and go.
*Addendum: Having had further time to reflect on this post, it occurs to me that taking one's dog for a walk may be impossible for some people. Some people have limited mobility, or may live in a neighborhood that isn't safe. (I actually drive my dogs across town to walk because it's more pedestrian friendly there.) If for whatever reason, walking is not an option for you, I recommend that you take at least some time--more than you might feel you have--to engage with your dog--or your cat or your bird or whatever non-humans you share your home with. And make sure they get enough exercise somehow, even if you have to outsource that job to somebody else. Your dog may or may not be the most important person in your life, but you are almost certainly the most important person in theirs.