January is Walk Your Dog month.
Wikipedia says “Dog walking is the act of a person walking with a dog, typically from the dog’s residence and then returning. Leashes are commonly used for this. Both owners and pets receive many benefits, including exercise and companionship.”
Walk Your Dog month is mainly observed in the United States, but it has begun to gain more attention in the UK.
The History of Walk Your Dog Month
The origin of Walk Your Dog Month is slim, but here is the “history” I have been able to find about Walk Your Dog Month: (1) it’s the month of January, (2) apparently it was started as a means of motivating people to take their dogs for walks despite the cold and snowy conditions in some places in January and (3) the first professional “dog walker” was a man named Jim Buck.
Who Was Jim Buck?
On November 28, 1931, James Augustine Farrell Buck was born to a distinguished Manhattan family, one of four siblings. He spent some time in his youth training dogs and horses and chose not to attend college; he hated working as a salesman for an electronics company, even though he had an annual salary of $15,000.
Note: Buck’s $15,000 salary in 1960 is equivalent to $131,872.80 today.
He Quit His Job
In 1960, when he was about 32, having “had enough,” Jim Buck quit his job and became the first professional dog walker.
By 1964, the husband and father of two had enough business to hire an assistant. Jim Buck’s School for Dogs was generating $500 per week walking dogs, training dogs and dog sitting – surpassing his job in sales.
Buck walked 30 to 40 dogs a day, at least six dogs at a time, in separate sets, three times a day, covering 25 miles a day and was well recognized in the City. He is said to have worn out the soles of two pairs of a construction worker’s boots every month.
For over 40 years, he ran the Buck School for Dogs, at one point employing as many least 24 assistants, they walked up to 150 dogs every day.
Buck died on July 4, 2013, at the age of 81, from emphysema and cancer.
The Benefits of Walking Your Dog
When it’s cold outside, the most likely choice is to snuggle up inside and get warm. Snuggling and getting warm together are good things, but getting healthier together can be life-extending for both of you.
The benefits of walking your dog are fitter bodies, a closer connection and a barrier to her and your obesity.
When we think of “obesity,” we usually think of people, but people don’t “have a lock” on obesity.
In 2017, The Association of Pet Obesity Prevention released a clinical study in which it was stated that 56% of dogs in the United States were obese. At the time, that equated to over 50 million dogs across the United States.
At the same time, approximately 40% of Americans – 160 million Americans – were obese. Perhaps regular dog and human exercise could have changed that situation.
Walking your dog 2 ½ hours a week – or just 22 minutes a day – can result in both an improved version of yourself and a stronger pooch.
There isn’t an easier or healthier activity that you can do with your dog. Walking is simple. It’s free. You don’t need to buy any equipment. It’s good, cardio exercise that works your muscles and your heart. If it’s working YOUR heart, you know it’s doing the same thing for your pup.
It’s fun to do together because it isn’t just “exercise,” it’s hanging out, playing with your dog – and who loves to be with you more than your fur baby?
Those 22 minutes a day do so much for both of you.
They give you time to “get to know” your dog. You’ll get to know his personality, learn his idiosyncrasies, find out what he likes, the direction he likes to walk, what perks up his ears. (I’ve never had a dog that I didn’t chat with, so there is also time for that.)
At the same time, you’re building stamina, burning those excess calories and building a healthy heart.
Obviously, you won’t receive any monetary enrichment for walking your dog, as Jim Buck did, but by walking in the neighborhood, exercising and communicating with your dog, you will get to know your neighbors, and learn things about the area in which you live that you could never know getting warm and cuddly at home.
Since walking your dog is something you will likely have to do all year, anyway (unless you hire a dog walker), the first month of the year is a good time to begin a new habit that will safeguard your health and your dog’s.
“Jim Buck, 81; Made Walking Dogs a Job,” New York Times, July 13, 2013, Section A, Page 20 of the New York edition; (https://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/13/nyregion/jim-buck-made-walking-dogs-a-job-dies-at-81.html?hp&_r=0 )
“New Leach on Life Give Buck Bucks,” The Evening Independent, March 6, 1964
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