Escape cabin fever with your dog

By John Lewis

It’s a routine thing – nothing out of the ordinary.

Just another dog-walk.

But in these strange days of isolation, a dog-walk becomes less of a chore and more of a necessity to escape the growing cabin fever of magnificent jungle scene jigsaws, another coffee, loungeroom pilates, phone-face, wine and Skype, more coffee, internet pub choirs, Netflix, and ‘what’s for lunch'?

However, just like social distancing, there are rules to a dog walk.

Do not, for goodness sake mention the ‘w’ word unless you really are prepared for 20 minutes of tongue-lolling and bouncing.

If you wear a hat outdoors, don’t wear it indoors. This increases the height of the bounce and could lead to a nasty coffee spill.

When committed to a dog-walk, opening the front door is really a two-person job. One person to hold the door wide open, while the dog-walker is dragged outside, hopefully without crashing headlong over the front doorstep and into the geraniums.

While walking to the car, avoid an expensive shoulder-wrench by keeping Mr Mutt on a short lead.

All this will be familiar and sensible to the seasoned dog-walker.

Once out on the dog-walk, things are now wonderful because there’s no more stopping for an idle chat with friends or other dog-walkers. No more "can I pat your dog please?" or discussions about your grandchildren or the price of fish while the sinews of your biceps are stretched to snapping point.

Social distancing means there is actually a chance for a power walk as you sail past fellow dog-walkers and annoying children with a cheery wave and a glance that says "we’re all in this together – so bugger off".

I actually made it around Victoria Park Lake in record time at the weekend. It was so invigorating I almost broke into a jog and went around a second time. Almost.

For cabin fever sufferers, dog-walking has always been a chance to get out and breathe - alone.

As a teenager with ageing parents in the late 60s I would spend hours trudging up and down the windswept beach of my seaside town to get away from the stifling blanket of Coronation St and cigarette smoke.

The beach was isolationist heaven – 11 kilometres of sand and mud, one lighthouse and one tiny figure on the horizon. Probably another escaped teenager.

Home isolation now means walking the dog is one of the few social things we can do in public without abandoning our civic duty. Make the most of it. If you don’t have a dog – take a sheep for a walk. Just don’t stop to discuss the price of lamb.