Thursday, May 24, 2012

K9Kamp 2012 Week One: Walking on Sunshine--Results...

Goal: Walk for at least 60 minutes this week.

Challenge criteria:
  1. walk with your dog;
  2. start off slowly at your current pace;
  3. spice it up by stepping up the time by 5 or 10 minutes or more, if able;
  4. add one EXTRA to your walk: interval walking, walk w/weights, include a hill, change your route, climb stairs, jog or run, etc.
Day 1: Putting our best
foot forward, admiring
the violets
My husband walks Paige daily, and I use her various toys to make sure she gets exercise. But because of chronic pain and exhaustion, my ability to be active has greatly diminished over the past several years. Knowing we might not be able to complete all of the challenge criteria, but also knowing that ANY exercise would be better than NO exercise, with Paige by my side, we plunged into K9Kamp with a mixture of enthusiasm (Paige's) and apprehension (mine).

Friday, May 18, Day 1: Awoke with a pulled muscle in my lower back. Part of the adventure of living with chronic illness is never knowing how you'll feel when you wake up, but I didn't want to wimp out on the first day of K9Kamp! So, how to adapt? I knew I wasn't up for much of a walk, so after Paige had her supper, I took her out in our tiny back yard, and we walked around and around, first in one direction, then another, then figure-eights. Paige got lots of practice in making right and left turns! After about five minutes my back was hurting too much to continue. But, it was a start!

Day 2: Learning to
slow down. Mom says,
"Paige, no pull."
Saturday, May 19, Day 2: Back still hurting, though not as bad as yesterday; but the temperature was in the 80's, and the heat is not my friend. Again, I waited until almost 5:30 p.m., and Paige was raring to go. I walk a lot slower than David does, so at first Paige had a hard time adjusting to my shorter stride and slower pace.

She also needs to learn the difference between pleasure-walking with him, and working-walking with me as my service dog. So, during today's walk we worked on Paige staying on my left to avoid tangling with my cane, keeping at heel, right turn, left turn, and "no pull."

Paige walks at heel
with Mom
After a few false starts, she caught on and we took a 10-minute walk, double yesterday's effort. It might not seem like much to some, but for me it was huge. As the arthritis in my spine progresses, walking becomes more difficult; so being able to walk for 10 minutes was very encouraging.

Sunday, May 20, Day 3: Took the day off to rest and relax. Lots of cuddle time with Paige, and review of commands learned thus far.

Monday, May 21, Day 4: Pain and exhaustion during the day, then family came for supper. No walk today.

Paige waits on the
landing until "Mom"
reaches the bottom
Tuesday, May 22, Day 5: Very hot, so instead of walking outside, we exercised on the stairs. It provided a great opportunity to work with Paige on learning to "wait" until I reach the landing before coming up the first flight of stairs behind me, then "wait" again until I reach the top. After four trips up and down the stairs, Paige was doing great, but my back said "enough." It took four minutes to do four trips up and down, so I did a minute of walking in place before gratefully sinking into my recliner.

"Okay," says Mom, and
Paige heads down
the stairs.
Wednesday, May 23, Day 6: Used the stairs again, and did five trips up and down in four minutes, then a minute of walking in place; so although I didn't increase my time, I did increase the speed slightly. Paige was running extra laps up and down the stairs while I was turning around at the top or bottom. (Show off!)

Thursday, May 24, Day 7: Another rest day. I have learned that, if I don't pace myself, don't listen to my body and rest, it makes the pain and exhaustion worse; so I use the "down time" for writing, reading, knitting, and interacting online. Paige, however, decided that "stair time" should be a daily event whether I participated or not. She also stepped it up a notch by incorporating "chase the cats" with her stair exercise!

So, let's see how we stacked up against the challenge criteria:

1. walk with your dog....check!
2. start off slowly at your current pace...Since my pace prior to K9Kamp was zero, walking for 5 minutes was an improvement!
3. step up the time or pace by 5 or 10 minutes...Increased our walk from 5 minutes on day one to 10 minutes on day two, so check!
4. add one extra...we added the stairs, so check!

And our results for Week One? My total exercise for the week was 30 minutes, half the challenge amount; but Paige got in way more than 60 minutes. It would be easy to feel discouraged, but instead I feel good. I feel good that Paige and I spent additional time bonding. I feel good that I was able to walk outside twice this week, whereas normally I wouldn't have walked outside at all. I feel good that I was able to complete the trips up and down the stairs--Day 6 without my back hurting! I feel good that I increased my activity by 30 minutes this week. Oh, and another bonus--I lost another 2.25 lb! 

Paige says, "Why wait?
Come join us
at K9Kamp!"
Tomorrow, the new challenge for Week Two will be posted. Regardless of what it is, Paige and I plan to also keep walking, aiming to increase our time and distance, little by little.

By the way, there's still time for you to join in. Just click on the links below for information:

Kol's Notes

Peggy's Pet Place


  1. Donna, you said it best when you wrote that any exercise is better than no exercise. I am a firm believer. You and Paige are doing beautifully. I fully support your commitment to this endeavor.

    Hugs to both of you, Lindy

  2. Thank you for the encouraging words, Lindy. I have arthritis in my hips and lower spine, spinal stenosis, and fibromyalgia, so any exercise is painful. However, I want to maintain my mobility for as long as possible, so any walking I can do is good. And thanks for the hugs, too!

  3. I think you guys did great! :)

  4. Hi, Pup Fan! Thanks for stopping by and for the encouragment. I hope you're enjoying K9Kamp, and having a great holiday weekend, too!

  5. I think you guys did a fantastic job--I love how you're incorporating various training exercises into your walks. Paige is adorable!

  6. Thanks, Lauren. Since Paige had no training, except the "sit" command before we adopted her, she has a lot to learn. I try to make training a fun experience for both of us, and am so pleased with her progress. Hope you're having a fun week with K9Kamp, too.

  7. I'm so impressed! You are taking no excuses for getting it done. Good for you. And Paige is such a sweetheart too. It is interesting the difference between walking for fun and walking as a service dog. Thanks for kamping with us!
    Peggy and Kelly

  8. Thanks, Peggy, and Paige says thanks, too. As my service dog, Paige needs to not only learn to heel, but to match my slower pace, not to pull (which could make me lose my balance), and to avoid getting tangled in my cane. Her biggest challenge is that she's easily distracted, but with practice, practice, practice, I'm confident she'll overcome that. So glad you told me about K9Kamp!