I like to dedicate at least 20 minutes to spend with my dog every morning. Obviously an hour would be better, but usually it's something like 15 or 20 minutes.

During this time Ace and I might go for a walk, play fetch, work on tricks or just randomly run around and play in the field out back.

On Monday we practiced some off-leash heeling through the neighborhood. Today I brought along Ace's favorite rope toy and we played an intense game of tug.

Sometime soon I'd like to hide some treats or toys in the grass so he can practice using his nose. I would love to teach him some serious bird-dog tracking and retrieving skills since clearly he has the drive. We'll see.

I make a point that our “walks” are not routine. I don't walk my dog just for the sake of walking him. Our walks are not rushed or stressful. That is not the point of walking.

In this fresh spring weather, I've noticed many dogs out and about with their owners. I have not seen these dogs in five months. Although I'm glad the dogs are getting out now – they seem exuberant! – it's nice to know my dog and I have been out almost every day for years.

Ace has a calm, all-knowing energy about him that I really appreciate. When another dog barks at us from its fully extended Flexi, Ace just sways his body a bit and looks at me. Poor sucker.

I look forward to my walks with Ace. To me, this kind of time is the whole point of having  a dog.

No matter what happens throughout the rest of the day, I know my dog had at least a few minutes of my direct attention. That's important to me as his owner and best friend.

Cute black lab mix sitting in a field wearing camo


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