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Running with dogs, improved
Is your dog too fat?
A friend who loves her dogs recently told me, "If your dog is overweight, then you don't get enough exercise". Wait. Maybe she said,"If you are overweight, then your dog isn't getting enough exercise." True either way. My dogs are not overweight. I however, would qualify for a pair of fat mom jeans. My dogs and me could all use more exercise.
Today I tried a new tactic, in order to have the dogs get enough exercise. I also wanted to avoid being dragged down the sidewalk by their enthusiasm. Typically, when I leash up the two border collies and the spirited fox terrier, I am dragged in three different directions. I usually use three leashes, and am constantly switching hands, trying to keep them untangled while keeping my legs from being completely entwined. I have also tried a single leash attached to three leads, which usually leads the dogs tying themselves in knots at the end of a single leash. Either way, the dogs are unhappily tangled in a knot of tails, legs and fur, and I am invariably tripped up, occasionally falling on my face.
In an effort to get more exercise, while protecting myself from bodily harm, I decided to change things up a bit. Rather than walk down the sidewalk, we ran along the train tracks, less than a block from our house. The tracks wind out into farm land and sage brush, and by running along the access road, I can let the dogs off their insufferable leashes.
Finding their own way
Letting them go, Simon hid under a sage, peering out cautiously for an imminent attack by Pepe. Unfortunately, he looked in the wrong direction, and she leapt over several bushes behind him, before landing upon his head .Bella ran along behind, sniffing every bush and clump of grass.
I continued running up the hill to the tracks, calling the dogs. Simon darted under whatever cover he could find, while Pepe ran frantically in huge circles, trying to round us up. Fortunately, she let me run and did not try to herd me. Bella ran along her own path, keeping one eye on me, and one eye on Pepe.
Pepe, Bella and Copper
After a while, we settled into an easy pace, the dogs trotting alongside, then chasing after whatever scents wafted on the early morning air. A cacophony of birds accompanied me, peacocks on a nearby ranch, blackbirds, doves and sparrows. I was glad not to have my iPod, as the melody surrounded me and carried me on. The sounds of nature waking as I flowed through my run, effortlessly floating along the path.
As I headed west, the sun began to rise over the horizon, casting long, slender shadows ahead, and gently nudging the land awake.
We ran for a while, the dogs and I. Relaxed, easy running. No traffic. No trash cans. No sidewalks. No leashes. They sprinted through sagebrush, down to ponds and through cattails. As I headed back, the sun glinted off the rails, a blinding beauty, in an unexpected place.
Sunrise in Wyoming
Ahead on the tracks, about half a mile distant, a herd of deer stood, deciding. They stared at us, but the dogs didn't even notice. They ran in circles, chasing faint scents of foxes, squirrels, and birds.
Beyond the deer, I saw a train come around the bend. The deer stood their ground, as the monstrous machine silently bore down. It's strange, really, how quiet an approaching train is. I continued running toward the oncoming train, and the deliberate herd of deer.
When the engineer blew the whistle, the deer daintily sprang onto our side of the tracks. I could see five of them. Then, in an instant, the train whooshed by me, warm air pulling me toward the tracks. It's power was beautiful. After the train passed, the tracks sang, an eerie sound, humming in the early morning light.
Finally, the dogs spotted the deer, and took chase. They were no match for the beautiful animals, as they gracefully sprang across fields and disappeared. The dogs came back, dutifully following me home, at last their seeming endless energy spent.
We will run the tracks again. And again.