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Pilates with Dogs


Sneaking down the stairs, I tip toe, stepping over the one stair that creaks, trying to make sure Eli and Sally don’t hear where I am going. I stop at the bottom and listen, but don’t hear any doggy scrabbling through the house. So far, so good.

I close the door with utmost care, making sure it doesn’t slam shut.

In our exercise room, I sit on the bench and put my shoes on. I carried them with me to help reduce the sound of my footsteps so the dogs wouldn’t be clued into where I was headed. Crossing the room, again on tip toe, I blow the dust off my exercise video and pop it into the DVD player. Looking at the three remotes, I pick what I think is the one for the DVD and hit On. The TV springs to life—blaring a commercial for a cleaning product. It is obvious the last time I was on the treadmill (a few months ago?) I didn’t turn the volume down when I was done. I jab at buttons, trying to find mute and as soon as I find it, the door bangs open against the wall. They’re here.

Eli dashes into the room first, with Sally hot on his heels. Even our 18-year-old-cat starts meowing at the top of his lungs, having felt the vibration of the door against the wall. Socks is pretty much deaf, but his vocals are louder now than they have ever been.

My shoulders slump as I look at the screen and see that my Pilates mat video has started, so I hit pause. It should say Pilates, plus two dogs and one cat.  

I’m sure some would tell me to stop whining and take control of this situation. After all, I’m the human and they are mere pets. Control possibilities could be (1) Close and latch the door so they can’t come in. The door has a glass panel and they sit on the other side and stare at me—sometimes even throwing in some whining; or, (2) Lock them in their kennels. Really? I feel bad enough when I have to put them in there when we’re gone. Plus, they know I’m home and make sure I know they aren’t happy.

My guess is that many of the people who would suggest some options are also individuals who do not have pets. If they did, they wouldn’t even think such nonsense. They would understand the lack of control I possess when it comes to Sally.

Sighing, I roll my yoga mat onto the floor.  Sally and Eli are now in a wrestling match and decide I have put this down for their benefit. Eli grabs Sally by the back of the leg and drags her over to the mat for a pin. Sally performs a body spin and knocks Eli over with a head butt. Socks sits on the bench licking his paw, watching the shenanigans.

I hit play, adjust the volume and drop to my mat, shooing the dogs away. I roll down onto my back and start with The Hundred. I get to about 13 when I receive the first doggy lick attack—one on each side of my face. My hands are working at my sides, so I shoo the lickers away with a violent head movement. I focus on the exercise and ignore them, but Eli is not dissuaded, as is evidenced by the paw in my face move. He is lying beside my head, so I try to shove him away but now he is pulling the dead weight routine. By the time he is gone, the video has moved to Single Leg Stretch.

I roll my head and shoulders up off the mat and stretch my legs in and out, counting each movement. At the end, I am happy I was able to get through the whole exercise without any animal distraction. Unrolling onto the mat, the back of my head lands on a fur pillow, thanks to Socks.

“Come on, you guys,” I say, a whine in my voice that disgusts even me. Sally thinks this is a call to action, so she runs over to Socks and starts annoying him. He runs away and it  appears across my body is the easiest route, with Sally close on his heels. I clutch at my stomach, and then turn my head toward the sound of running water. “Eli!” He stops mid-pee and gives me the Who, me? look.

I pause the video, shoo the dogs outside in the snow, grab paper towels and clean up the warm pee (ugh) before anyone has a chance to track it through the house. I let the maniacs back in, wash my hands and lay back down on my mat—which I find is now covered in melting snow. “Really? All I want to do is exercise,” I say. My whining meter is rising.

I push through Double Leg Stretch and even The Roll Up, dodging doggy tongues and Socks’ tail flicking across my face. But when Sally walks over and stands on my chest, I decide enough is enough. After all, ten minutes of actual exercise is better than nothing, right?

I roll onto my side and Sally curls into me. Eli stretches out along my legs and Socks wanders off toward his bowl. I manage a few Side Leg Stretches before I change the channel and we finish my work-out routine watching the morning news—on the floor together.

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