The other day I took Kimber for a walk up Drummond Hill. Drummond Hill is a steep hill, populated by forests, walking paths, and stunning views. We took a route we’d not taken before and I was perturbed to find that while we seemed to have made good upward progress, the path was now taking us quite far down. I knew where this route begins it’s descent to the car park and we were nowhere near it, which meant we’d be climbing steeply upwards somewhere further along the route. Before we got to that point, however, there was an opportunity to come off the hill altogether and progress homeward on a level, riverside path. A year ago, I’d’ve done that; no question! Actually, a year ago I probably wouldn’t have been on the hill in the first place. I was so unfit, there’s no way I’d have been climbing a hill.
So what’s changed? In a word: Kimber. Getting Kimber as a puppy has been the best thing ever for my fitness. Because when you get a puppy, you don’t have to become superfit straightaway. For me it started off by having to get up off my backside more often. Did you know that just by standing up you start to have a positive impact on your fitness. Talk about teeny-tiny baby steps! So when I had to get up to put Kimber into the garden, or clear up her mess, or rescue her from a pickle, I was starting on the road to fitness. Then, as she got a bit bolder, I’d have to chase after her to stop her getting up to mischief. And play is very important for puppies, so I got involved in playing with the ball, tug of teddy bear, and a bit of rough and tumble. All great for improving fitness.
After a few weeks, we were able to take Kimber for walks. But the thing about puppies is that you have to ease into walking. You can only go for short walks to start with, gradually building the distance and length of time over a period of months. Long strenuous walks are bad for a puppy’s joints, so there’s a rule of five minutes for every month they’ve been alive. So I was taking Kimber on three fifteen minute walks a day to start with, gradually adding on an extra five minutes every month. Once she got to around ten months, the vet said that she’d stopped growing, so I increased her longest walk to an hour. So I was getting over an hour of exercise every day!
These days Kimber’s a little over a year old, and I take her up hills. The gradual increase in my fitness, and her stamina, has meant that I’ve got here without even really noticing. And because there’s nothing I’ve had to change or incorporate overnight, it’s just become part of my fabric. I just assume that I can climb the hill, however long or steep it is. As for Kimber, well, we reckon she’s part dog, part rabbit, part mountain goat; so she can handle pretty much anything.