Lately I've been noticing that most people around here walk their dogs on a pretty short leash. Not crazy short—just like the typical six feet. We have one of those: it's black and thick and strong, because Rascal had some pulling power in his younger days! But we haven't used it for a long time. Instead, when he has to be on a leash at all we go with the 15-foot retractable model. Watching folks striding along the sidewalk with their golden retrievers heeling beautifully made me think, for a moment, that I wish I could walk like that with Rascal... but by the next moment I had changed my mind. Because that's not really what either of us are like.
Rascal doesn't run as much in his old age as he once did, but he still likes to stretch out every once and a while—certainly, for most of his life it was running rather than walking that gave him all his exercise. A walk, for him, is all about exploring the smells and tastes of the neighborhood. For my part, while I'm happy to walk briskly when I can, I'm not particular as to the direction—and I'm rarely in any real hurry. So it suits us both to let him come and go within that 15-foot radius. He can range ahead or behind, or go sniffing in woods or lawns, without me having to think about it too much. I figure the model is kind of like my parenting. He's coming along in the same general direction that I'm going, but I'm not going to worry to much about making him stay right next to me for show or anything. It seems to work for us.