Our routes are super nice. Towering pines, thick shrubs, winding trails in one direction, tall beach grass, sand and crashing waves in another. Lots of good peeing and pooping spots, and she exhibits a great deal of patience when I stop. But the rest of the time we’re moving. I am thankful for small favors. She’s no spring chicken anymore. While she once ran six miles a day, arthritis in her back and knees has changed her workout routine to less miles and walking, but walking with a former runner isn’t just schlepping along. The old girl’s pace is fast. I’m good for the first mile, staying in front, eagerly pulling on my leash. By the start of mile two I’m beside her and near the end I’m starting to drag. But I came up with a spectacular idea. To save myself and tap into both the sympathetic and competitive sides of my trainer person, as we close in on the end of mile two I shift from dragging to plopping my fluffy rump down on the pavement. She turns around, takes pity on my sad little face to which I’ve added a drooping tongue and finishes her workout carting me in her arms. She takes great delight in hefting fifteen extra pounds. Panting now she tells me she’s burning more calories, building more muscle, bettering her fitness level. I knew she’d come to that conclusion. We finish our walk. She plants a kiss on top of my head, tells me it was a good three miles, gives me water first. I knew she’d do that, she’s such a mush. “You’re a good walking buddy,” she says. I’m glad when I can help.