Dogs get to walk even if master doesn't

News editor

Whether she is in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., New Orleans, or Marion, Ruth Reed is surprised by how interested people are in her walking her dogs using a power scooter.

“I don’t know why people would be interested in this, but so many are,” she said.

Reed began using a scooter about two years ago to walk her dogs and do other outdoor activities. She has a genetic neurological disorder that deprives her of full leg function.

Despite the disorder, she was determined to continue getting her dogs the exercise they need.

“It hurts my heart to see people get dogs and leave them on a chain,” she said.

Reed’s priorities for dog ownership are exercise, discipline, and love. Her Jack Russell terrier, Rambo, has endless energy. Rowdy is a St. Charles cavalier spaniel, a breed prone to heart disease. Both need plenty of exercise to stay healthy and happy.

Her Maltese, Teddy, doesn’t need as much exercise and sometimes gets bored during walks. While Rambo and Rowdy go bounding off, tugging on their leashes, Teddy is happy to stand by Reed and her scooter.

She is happy with her scooter, because it is fast enough to give her dogs a good workout and sturdy enough to take along gravel trails in Arizona, where she spends winters.

She walks her dogs early in the morning, 6:15 or 6:30, and again in the evening to avoid the heat of the day. She suspects she knows the home of every dog in the northeast quarter of Marion from dogs barking as they go by.

Reed said there aren’t many people out when she walks the dogs. That is a good thing, because sometimes she has to ride in the street because of rough sidewalks, and it is safer with fewer drivers.

The people she sees are always cordial, she said. Reed tries to be a good neighbor, as well, keeping plastic bags in her scooter to clean up when her dogs make a mess.

“I wish we had a dog park,” Reed said. “That would be ideal.”

Her favorite dog parks have plenty of grass covering the ground, have separate areas for large and small dogs, and are fenced in. She also likes having picnic tables and benches for people to socialize. Some also have ponds where dogs can swim and play fetch.

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