Walking With Barley



By: Holly Lange, Visitor Center Ambassador

Years ago, I started to realize that the 80-acre park outside my house was beckoning. Sure, my couch was pretty friendly too, but Central Park had so much more to offer. I started walking the loop around the park, and sometimes took the dirt paths up and over the hills, twice a day. It was a great way to wake up, and an even better way to decompress after a long day at work.

The park was my therapist, and it was a very good listener. When the walking wasn’t enough, I added a little running, and pretty soon I was doing two, two-mile-long loops around the park. One Sunday, I participated in a five-mile race along Sand Creek Greenway. I came in first in my age group – what a proud moment! And then I checked the list and found I was the only one in my age group. Oh well, I still have the ribbon proudly displayed on the side of my fridge.

Everything changed when Barley came into our lives. This little ball of fur loved going on walks, and when he was a puppy, he also loved cutting in front of me to check out a scent on the left side of the trail. Pretty soon, I had to limit the running and focus on walking and safely training this little guy how to heel.

Two years later, he’s much better. In fact, when we run he gets very focused. When we walk, however, he still likes to wander and sniff and mosey and, well, um… mark. I find it really funny when he tries to mark and nothing happens. It’s like he’s miming it: “And this one I call: ‘dog marking a fire hydrant.’” Maybe I shouldn’t find that as funny as I do.

When I really need a little stress release, I walk Barley down to my good friend’s house on Spruce Street. It’s about a mile down my favorite stretch of 29th Avenue. Sometimes we take the sidewalk, and if we are lucky, we run into Dudley, the Labradoodle. Barley just loves Dudley, and the trick is letting them play without getting their leashes too tangled.

Sometimes we walk in the path along the median. I like to gaze at the architecture along the way, and Barley likes all the foliage to explore. This is also the route we take to the Farmers Market in the summer, another favorite.

The park outside my friend’s house is one of those quiet little pocket parks – always good for a little conversation, and watching the kids play. Each park in Stapleton has its own personality. Some are quiet, and some are full of life and energy.

Plus, I know Barley never gets bored. There’s always some new place to explore. We still like to jog Central Park (when I feel up to it), but lately, we’ve been taking some new routes. Just when you think you know Stapleton, you take a turn down a block you haven’t seen in years, and it’s a whole new world.

It brings back memories of model homes long since sold, and the large trees seem like they just popped up – unrecognizable from the little saplings you remember. It’s just like my sweet and handsome dog that doesn’t look like that little puppy anymore, and yet always will.

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