Today was my first attempt at what I would like to be my new Saturday routine. I cycled out to the Assisi Animal Sanctuary, on the far side of Newtownards, walked a dog for a bit under an hour, and then cycled home again.
I went to Assisi for the first time on my birthday. I love dogs, and I loved having a dog when I was a teenager, but have to accept that my lifestyle isn’t ideal for having one – if I had a dog, they would spend a huge amount of time on their own while I’m at work, which wouldn’t be very fair. So instead I am participating in the Assisi dog-walking scheme. They have a place full of dogs that need walking, so they are keen for volunteers to come and walk them, on a Tuesday or Thursday evening, or Saturday or Sunday during the day. I walked a dog for the first time last Saturday, when I took Jacko out. Today I was out with Sox.
There’s a nice walk through the Whitespots Country Park, which is an old lead mine works just off the dual carriageway, and fortunately the dogs are well used to walking alongside the traffic. It’s probably good exercise for my ankle, as it’s got quite rough paths with a lot of ups and downs through the hills. And there are plenty of things for the dogs to sniff, so they love it.
The only problem with the whole idea is cycling to and from Newtownards, where the hilliness of the ride makes up for the fact that it’s not very far.
On the way out, you have to get up the hill at Dundonald, which is quite hard going. But on the way back, the hill out of Newtownards is murder. Not helped by the fact I was riding my mountain bike rather than my road bike. Nor by by wind which was not at my back. And definitely not helped by the fact that I had already cycled 20 miles, and walked 2!
But I hope I can make it work, at least while the weather is good, as it’s a nice way of combining a ride with doing something useful!