As everyone in Vancouver knows, the City of Vancouver workers voted to strike two years ago, and two weeks ago they hid the streets. Garbage on the streets measures epic dimensions – except the stuff used as ash can fuel to warm the picketers’ heart cockles.

Workers want a compressed work week. A band of them camped in front each community centre striving to make this desire a reality. This, of course, means I have no more classes. Occasionally I run into a would-be class participant who asks me, “Hey Mike, how are you staying in such great shape over the strike?”

“I have a dog,” I say.

I didn’t have a dog before the strike. A co-worker asked us to take her because she can’t handle her anymore. She’s big and strong, and people in her building worry about her digging and noise. At Thanksgiving Dinner last Monday when the transfer of ownership took place, I said that I worry about the digging and the noise too. Everyone voted me down as Casey the Wonder Dog – a ten-month-old eighty-pound German shepherd – husky cross arrived on the back porch and took a dump.

“Who’s going to take her for a walk?” I asked thinking there might be more solid waste might be on the way.

“Not you,” said Cecelia firmly. “I heard about your episode with a dog at your fiftieth birthday party last year. I don’t want to see a repeat performance.”

As the week progressed, it became clear that there was only one person designated as the chief dog walker – yours truly. I’ve since learned that there is more to dog walking than simply grabbing the leash and saying, “Heel.” It’s tricky, and can be quite a workout – especially if the dog is untrained as Casey the Wonder Dog. For Vancouverites interested in maintaining their fitness during the strike, I present Dog Aerobics.

1. The warm-up

It’s very important to warm up before exercising. In Dog Aerobics, this involves putting the collar and leash on before actually leaving the security of the back porch. The trick is getting the collar on the dog rather than the owner. Casey the Wonder Dog can dodge any attempt at collar installation by standing on her hind legs, pirouetting, and lunging towards her assailant with her fists clenched. I didn’t know dogs had fists, and I didn’t think they had the physical ability to execute an upper cut. Nevertheless, the warm-up ended with me sitting on my butt in the middle of the porch holding the collar and the leash, and the Casey the Wonder Dog roaming freely through the streets of Port Coquitlam chasing cats and sniffing raccoon shit.

2. The Cardiovascular Component. (Boot Camp)

The dog needs collaring and she wants her walk. It’s time for the dog game guaranteed to raise your heart rate to astronomical levels. The object, according to my interpretations, is the tackle. The only way to do this is to dive at her and try to hobble all four legs. On the twentieth attempt, I had her collared, leashed, and ready for the trail leading to Eddy the Donkey’s corral a few blocks away. I neither knew nor cared about monitoring my pulse, but I can guarantee my blood pressure read high.

3. The Cardiovascular Challenge. (Wildlife)

Casey the Wonder Dog inherited some genes from a bloodhound. She likes to sniff trails of critters that migrated across or along our trail anytime from the last millennium to now. As we run the trail, her nose causes her to dart off to the side to flush out such big game as worms, slugs, and, of course, Eddy the Donkey. Eddy the Donkey defined the art of braying, and Casey the Wonder Dog views braying as the ultimate unprovoked assault. An insulted dog is a barking dog, and Casey the Wonder Dog takes her barking seriously – by standing at attention like Sparky Anderson yelling at an ump . . . until . . . RABBIT!

It wasn’t a rabbit. It was something much larger and hairier. In the light of the full moon, I could see its fangs glistening. They were the size of railway spikes.

There is something exhilarating about seeing a dogs running full tilt. With their noses pointed forward and their ears laid flat on their heads, they offer zero wind resistance. You wonder about the sequence of their foot falls as they approach forty kilometers per hour, but you haven’t time. Instead, you marvel at the comical expressions on their faces as you overtake them.

Mike Broderick is an Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he finds employment for people with physical disabilities. Part of this work means affiliation with the Vancouver Board of Trade where he is a member of the Ambassador Club, the Burnaby Board of Trade where he is a member of the Labour Task Force, the Tri Cities Chamber of Commerce where he is an active member of the 10X10 initiative, and the Abbotsford Chamber of Commerce. He also does some work as a field Archaeologist. He is also a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to alive

You can reach him at home at michael_broderick@telus.net or at michaelb@neilsquire.ca. re looking for a change, start with a resume makeover at competitive rates

When he is not doing all the above, he lives in Port Coquitlam with his partner Cecelia


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