Let me make one thing straight - a fenced in back yard is highly under rated. All my years as a dog owner, "putting the dogs out" entailed opening the back door and letting them run past you. The only hardships were when it was a cold morning and you felt the freezing weather on your face when you opened the door or the frustration of them scrambling around you to see who was going first.
Those were the salad days, the carefree times when I was innocent -the years I never appreciated. When I moved to Charleston and brought Ellie with me, we had a new reality. The first morning at 5:30 I awoke to a furry face looking at me with this, "Well, are you taking me out or what?" look.
It was cold outside, I was still sleepy, and "going out" was now a participation sport. So I got up, pulled on some decent warm clothes, put her leash on her and we headed out the door for her morning constitutional. Now, I will say, Ellie is very good on a leash. But, I do live on the dodgy side of Meeting Street.
When I come out of my apartment building door, if I go to my right - well let's put it this way, I would be more comfortable walking a bigger dog with a bigger chip on his shoulder than 10 inch tall Ellie who, bless her heart, never got the memo that she falls in the "little dog" class. She definitely has the Napoleon Complex, which does me no good as protection detail.
Going to the left takes us into the area of gentrification. The walk goes past 2 small churches, several restored single houses, several houses being restored, and many that are in need of help. As we move south you get into an area where the buildings were raised and upscale faux Charleston Housing style apartments have been constructed.
So we have established our route. We know the characters on the street. We know the house that has the pit bull on the porch. (We carefully cross the street just before we get to that house, much to Ellie's dismay.) If we have time we will go several blocks and circle around, if not, we go up and back. Everyone, from the students on their way to class, the cooks on their way to work, the winos on their way home, and anyone else is friendly and always speaks.
Walking down Columbus, the houses are occupied with students and often they are out on their porches at night listening to music and talking. It is not unusual for them to call out to us from their porch. Ellie gets very offended if someone passes us on the sidewalk and does not stop and acknowledge her. I have yet to meet anyone she did not like.
Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays [Ellie and me] from the swift completion of [our] appointed rounds. We had a system and I finally was used to getting up early to walk her, our other walks during the day, and our trip to the dog park once or twice a week. I could handle this whether it was in the 30's, raining, windy, or fair.
Then came Marshall and all the rules went out the window . . .