Friday, May 16, 2014

Furry Running Buddies.

They sniff. They bark. They poop in inconvenient places. They play with us, snuggle with us and run with us. They are our best friends, both on-trail and on-sofa. They are our training partners, our coaches and the ones who keep us going. Their natural love of running and for life motivate us to get up, get outside and get moving.

Our dogs; also known as the greatest running partners on the planet.

I see a woman jogging alone. I think, "Where's her dog?" I leave my mutts at home so that I can squeeze in a little speed-work in-between preschool drop-off and the grocery store, then feel guilty about it the whole time. Why didn’t I let them tag along? A run just isn't the same without a 4-legged companion at your side, but there are times when we choose to leave them behind, knowing there will be a sulking K9 waiting when we return, sweaty and guilty, from a solo run.

Here are some of my favorite things about running with my 4-legged family members.

They run when you run.
People. Whether they decide to go to Target, they really need to clean their house, or they have a hang-over, human running partners have been known to flake out. Will your dog ever ditch you to go buy new hand-towels at Target? Nope!

The first time I took my pup down to Dutch Gap, she bounded down the dock and flew into the water, tongue out and belly-first. Our run was put on hold; she spent the next half-hour splashing, swimming and clumsily fetching sticks from the water. I’ll never forget how I felt that day, watching as she discovered her sea legs. That kind of entertainment has no price.

I read somewhere that women who run with dogs are way less likely to be targeted by bad guys in the woods than women who run alone. I'm not sure how many would-be lady killers they interviewed for the article, but I gotta think it’s probably true. Along with protecting us from creepy weirdos in the woods, our dogs are also proficient at scaring off bears, chipmunks and beavers. Nice feature.

If you're huffing it up a big hill, they’re right there with you. They know how you feel because they are feeling it, too. They DO have four legs to work with (lucky mutts!), but still, they're on your team. Suggested team name: Fatty & Fluffy. That’ll do.

They sleep the rest of the day.
There's nothing better than the sweet silence in my house when my kiddo is taking a nap and my very hyper mutt is sprawled out on the floor (or sofa). Happy and tired after a morning on the trail, she is finally worn out. Time for a cup of coffee and a good book. My job here is done.

Naptime is serious business around here.

Like other humans, I'm occasionally tempted to skip my morning run to go shopping instead. On those mornings when Target is calling my name, I've got 2 sets of sad-puppy eyes to answer to and a decision to make. Sometimes I fly out the door as quickly as possible in order to avoid eye contact. Slacker! Other mornings, their pleading works; I lace up my running shoes and leave my shopping list at home. I've never regretted choosing the trail over the checkout line; I've got them to thank for that.


We love them, spoil them and teach them.
We run.
They love us, protect us and teach us.
Together, we fly.


-Michelle Baltz-