A change in routine during the Coronavirus pandemic is the end-all for my dog for all the right reasons  

My neighbor phoned the other day, asking if she could take our dog Rugger for a walk. “Of course,” I said. We call on this neighbor to tend to our “livestock” − a cat, two chickens and Rugger − while we’re away. She calls on us to tend to her two cats while she and her husband are away.

Like all of us who are holed up to escape the Coronavirus, my neighbor is getting restless. She needs exercise, to breathe fresh air and to rejoin the world. It helps that she likes Rugger, a 90-pound chocolate lab. He’s a sporty four years of age, a bundle of energy with a pedigree, and the sweetest guy on the planet.

It’s worth repeating that he’s a bundle of energy, because 90 pounds of lunging at the end of a leash can test an arm socket. He’s allowed to run loose in a 12-acre park about a block from our home. But getting there on leash, especially for the first walk of the day, is a full-body exercise in sled dog management. He can’t wait to get there!

First walk of the day: Come on, let’s go! Silva Nesset

Our home is in the county, so it’s not a city park or municipal dog park. It’s simply open space with haphazard trails where neighbors walk their dogs but also where kids ride bikes and, in winter, cross-country skiers make tracks and the occasional snow machine glides the snow.

Rugger is situated in a kennel in the back third of our acre of property, so our neighbor can access him without having to come into our home or otherwise getting freaky over Coronavirus concerns. She walks directly from her house to Rugger and, after returning him to the kennel, straight back home. It’s perfect!

So now, in the midst of this pandemic, Rugger has a new routine thanks to not only our neighbor but the Coronavirus. Rather than three walks a day and random romps and outings with his human family, Rugger now gets a minimum of four walks a day. He ends his day exhausted, a turn from the days when his routine included watching the house for the next person he could take on a walk.

Can one truly give thanks to the Coronavirus? Ask Rugger!

It’s quite possible that the deluge of attention Rugger gets during the Coronavirus pandemic delivers some of the happiest days of his life. Jan Nesset

How about you? Is your dog loving the Coronavirus, too? If not, could he?

My neighbor’s solution to staying active during this pandemic is a simple one that works two ways and benefits many.

What ideas do you have for staying active – and socially distanced – while the Coronavirus is still a hot topic?

Here’s a few:

1) Find that perfect tree for next Christmas

Take to the forest and seek new areas for the perfect tree. Don’t forget your GPS so you can take a direct route to the tree when the time is right.

2) Hunt without a firearm

Whether you hunt or not, now is a good time to go hunting. Hunting for what, you ask? Simple: a new experience in a new place. They’re everywhere and it’s open season! Any hunter will tell you that one of the greatest benefits of hunting is that skulking the landscape for big or small game takes you into places you wouldn’t normally go. On this less lethal adventure you climb ridgelines, reach lesser summits, find deep forest glens, encounter impressive trees and flora, and see wildlife where it’s most at home. Basically, you get views and experiences in areas located far from popular trails and routes.

3) While hunting, learn to orienteer

Get a topographic map and a compass and keep yourself found while you explore new terrain. Once you become handy with orienteering, you can use your new skills in an adventure race.

4) Ski closed ski resorts

You are on your own if you plan to uphill ski at a ski resort — should the ski resort even allow uphill travel where it operates. Check ahead. And if you do travel uphill to turn and shred downhill, you need to be clear that you do so at your own risk. The ski resorts ask you to consider the ski areas as backcountry. There will be no avalanche control, ski patrol or emergency response from the ski area. That said, this would not be the first post-season that skiers traveled uphill to turn and catch a few final runs on skiable terrain. It may be the first post-season, however, that those runs are so desperately needed.

5) Learn a new sport

If skiing or snowboarding is your thing but the ski resort closures have you down, try thinking beyond the ski resorts and into something new. Try your hand at snowshoeing, or backcountry or cross-country skiing.

6) Build a snowman

A healthy family of snowpeople begins with one standout.Jason Cipriani

While you’re out hunting new places and looking for next year’s Christmas tree, build a snowman. Build a number of them, and the members of this gathering do not need to be six feet apart.

What ideas do you have? Please share by sending a photo of your activity along with a write-up in our Reader’s Photos department on this website. Click the “Share A Photo” link on the right side of the main menu and you’re on your way.