National Walk Your Dog Week (October 1 to 7), which aims to address canine behavior issues and canine obesity, is a great opportunity for you and your dog to get outside and enjoy the green spaces around you – a message Lucky the TurfMutt shares year-round.
Lucky is the super-hero spokesdog for the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute (OPEI)’s environmental education and stewardship program, TurfMutt. Through materials focused on backyard science and STEM (science, technology, education and math) principles, TurfMutt teaches students in grades K-5 and their families how to save the living landscapes in their family yard.
“Getting outside to play in my yard and taking a walk in nature are two of my absolute favorite things in the world to do,” says Lucky the TurfMutt. “I’m fortunate to live with a human who understands the importance of being outside on walks, and I hope all pet parents will use National Walk Your Dog Week as an opportunity to jump start a new routine and bond with their dog.”
According to the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention (APOP), 54 percent of U.S. dogs (41.9 million in total) are overweight or obese. Extra weight can lead to health problems for a family’s furry friends, including chronic inflammation, orthopedic disease, skin problems, decreased mobility and cancer, not to mention reduced life expectancy and diminished quality of life. Dogs who don’t get enough exercise are also more likely to act out by barking, chewing or raiding the garbage can.
“I know from personal experience that Lucky is a much happier, content and well-behaved dog when he’s getting the proper amount of exercise – whether we’re walking through his own family yard, our neighborhood or in the community park,” says Kris Kiser, president and CEO of OPEI who rescued Lucky off the streets and gave him a home. “TurfMutt needs to stay fit and connected to nature in order to accomplish his mission of saving the planet one yard at a time, but it’s not just superdogs that need exercise – all dogs do.”
Spending time outside isn’t only good for our canine companions, it also benefits us, as well. A systematic research review (Annual Review of Environment and Resources) concluded that “the balance of evidence indicates conclusively that knowing and experiencing nature makes us generally happier, healthier people.” Being in nature reduces stress (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), improves memory function (Charlie Hall, Ellison Chair in International Floriculture) and decreases depression and anger (BioMed Central Public Health). And since the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) reports that nearly one-third of adults in the U.S. are obese, National Walk Your Dog Week is a positive step in the right direction for both pups and people.