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In my constant battle to put a bit more exercise in my life, I’ve found a new excuse. Now I can blame the dogs.

Sunday morning used to be my chance to burn around the neighbourhood with my ageing golden retriever in tow, zipping down streets and up (minor) hills, runners on and music pumping and getting my heart rate up just a tad. We’d go for at least an hour and cover quite a bit of distance. sometimes several times a week. There’s a lot of sniffing to be done on walks like that but still Moo kept up the pace and relished the outing.

Gradually over the years passed she’s slowed down, not just because she was becoming more wilful and wanted to sniff more. Those growing years were taking a toll, and maybe on those retriever hips. Sometimes I’d take a camera along and amuse myself with that as she pottered along. But still, we covered a lot of ground.

Then it changed. Another old retriever came along, this one adopted, even older and riddled with arthritis. She was barely up for 200 metres let alone an hour calorie burn. She came from a sad background so she was too psychotic to be left on her own while I took Mooks. Unattended, she was likely to take out her psychosis on our garden and dig up yet another new plant or dig a body trench for herself, sending Mr T into fits of rage and bringing out his famous ‘teeth-grit face’ so we reverted to short, slow strolls around the block with two ageing, furry dames lagging behind instead.

And I mean slow. Ridiculously. Slow. Excruciating. Like stopping every sixty seconds to wait for them. While they sniffed, and lumbered along, and sniffed some more. I can crawl quicker than they walk. Literally.

I realised a long time ago there’s no exercise benefit in this for me, so I’ve got a new plan.

Now I take a book along. At least that way we’re all getting something out of it. I reckon my reading rate will kick into high gear now even though the calorie count’s not changing. But I’m counting it as a win. The girls are happy anyway, and I can’t be too unkind as one day that may be me doing the block-crawl.