Posted 6 months ago ago
Written by: Jenny Stallard, PA
Even when the warmer weather comes and signals the start of spring, mud is often part and parcel of a daily walk with a dog. You can try to avoid it, and, if you live in a city, perhaps you often do - but for me and my dogs Roger and Florence, it’s pretty inevitable because we live in the countryside. And, frankly, I have to confess I rather love a muddy, boggy walk.
For anyone who has just rolled their eyes or thought ‘no way!’, let me explain.
First of all, there is the sheer childlike joy of stomping in mud. It’s gloopy, it’s wet, it’s sticky and it makes a fantastic sound when you walk through it. There’s a reason why children love a muddy puddle or making mud pies so much, right?
When my boots hit the boggy earth, it feels like I’m really connecting with the ground, that my footsteps are strong and more meaningful. I’m truly walking, not just strolling along. My strides have a purpose, to get me across the bog safely.
(Credit -Jenny Stallard)
Then there’s the energy it takes to walk through mud. Rather than an easy pavement or grass walk, mud demands you to balance, to consider your next step. And, indeed, to keep going, before one foot sinks in, gets stuck and you can’t get it out!
I’ve often descended into fits of laughter as I try to get a boot out of one bit of boggy land, the other trying to keep me upright… And yes, I’ve fallen in before! Well, a mud bath treatment at a spa costs way more, that’s what I told myself after looking round to make sure nobody had seen.
Thirdly, the thing that is perhaps the most important, is the impact this kind of walk (my friend and I like to call it a stomp), has on your mental health. As you concentrate on the ever-changing terrain beneath your feet, and not falling over, along with the sound and feel of the mud, there’s a cleansing of sorts. Suddenly you forget that email or call you have to make, the worries of life in a pandemic, because you’re too busy getting through the gloop.
Going for a muddy walk is an entirely different experience to a ‘regular’ one. As you slip and slide or consider that next step, you are closer to nature. You’re not just on a walk, you’re on an adventure. There’s a challenge at every turn, wondering if you’ll make it back without falling on your knees or bottom. A muddy walk keeps you on, well, your toes.
And finally? Well, of course, there’s the dogs’ enjoyment! Seeing them run in and out of the bogs just makes me grin. They love getting those paws soaking and caked in dirt, snuffling around in the footprints left by other walkers. They don’t need boots, or coats, or waterproofs – they embrace mud more like little children do. Their joy at a big muddy patch to explore is something that really lifts my mood. I begin to feel like I’ve done something really positive for their mental health, too.
It can be easy to take the dog for a walk and let them have all the benefits, but it should be an opportunity for us to connect with ourselves and nature, too. And for me, a muddy walk does just that.
The only downside? Cleaning off those boots and paws once you get home!