I had a heart bypass last summer. Our dog took it personally. As many of you know the hard way, bypasses are fairly easy. The killer is the rigorous and highly therapeutic permanent exercise they require afterwards. But having to walk your dog helps.

I had a heart bypass last summer. Our dog took it personally. As many of you know the hard way, bypasses are fairly easy.

The killer is the rigorous and highly therapeutic permanent exercise they require afterwards.

“It’s one thing to get the blood flowing again. It’s another thing to keep it flowing.” Physical thera-pests are trained to say that.

I had to sign off on the therapy program, a contract that included swimming and thrice weekly visits to the torture chamber, I mean gym. The manual was 84 pages of hell.

I did not buy the track suit, no Nikes for me, but a year later I am in great shape. My most recent inspection revealed I have the “heart of a younger man.” (They gave me a transplant?)

“Congratulations, your blood’s flowing in the right direction.” That was the conclusion of my echo-cardiogram.

When I got home, Lily, our mini long-hair Dachshund, did her appropriate welcome dance, then pointed to her leash. She has me trained. Exercise time.

Let there be no mistake, she walks me. A lot. If I’m couch napping, she dances, we go. If I’m at the computer, she does her “break time” tail wagging, we go. If I just happen to be walking past her, she’s got me.

I was wrestling the leaky pipes in the basement — here she comes.

The only thing she will not interrupt is supper making. She’s my cooking support.

You’d think walking a dog is fairly simple. Imagine this: Your sense of smell is 1,000 times stronger. You’d want to be out in the fresh air, too.

She always leads. We stop at every lamp post to see which friends have passed, literally, before us. We love trash day, all those recycling bins, all the trash cans and bags, all fascinating to a hound dog.

Then there’s the fan club. A lot of readers know Lily through this weekly meandering. A lot more cannot resist little ball of fluff leading the old guy around.  

Lily knows where our friends live. All it takes is one visit. Her pea-size brain files it away under “stop and wag.”

I like to mix things up, take different directions, smell different lamp posts. Not Lily. You could time us and find we are at exactly the same GPS coordinates at exactly the same moment seven times a week.

This means we get to greet all the other dogs. We’re all on a schedule. I’ve found a lot of them are forcing their heart-bypass parents into the same exercise regime.

We love watching the seasons change, smelling the fresh air coming down from Canada. We’re nonstop. We do the potty thing in our own yard, hopefully.

If you’ve not had the wind flap your ears recently, I highly recommend it, even without a bypass. It’s a better workout than their $5,000 stepper machines.

Deep-dark secret. I never did the hospital plan. I told them I get better exercise than their pedometers. I have a pet-o-meter. The therapist levies no excuses.

There’s no missing a session. It’s hard work, but Lily accepts the challenge. She asks nothing in return. Well, maybe a little meat loaf once in a while.

Low fat, of course.

Contact Jim Hillibish at jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com.