At nine years old, my dog Wrigley has been my faithful running companion for almost eight years now. Most days she has more energy than I do, running out in front of me as if to say, “C’mon!”, pacing on anyone who passes us, which is just about everyone. Speed has never been my forte in the sport of running and I’m pretty sure my slow miles just annoy the hell out of her, judging from how when we come home after an hour or so on the streets, she’ll tear around the backyard at full speed, mostly just to piss me off, I think.
I worry about her in the heat, though, and so on days when the temperature tops 83 or so, I usually leave her home and this summer that’s been happening a lot. When I went out the door yesterday, the way she flattened her ears down on her head when she saw me taking off in my running togs without her broke my heart.
When the weather is on the warmer side and she does join me, I stop for water often and watch how she reacts. In cold weather, she’ll whine at my delay tactics, “Let’s get going!” Only during longer runs on warm days will she ever take a drink from a fountain herself, and if she ever sits down at a water stop, I know we need to, um, dog it for a while.
Last week we were running together on a warmer day. Although the morning had started out with temperatures below eighty, by the time we got to the lake and were halfway through our jog they were clearly inching up. I let her set the pace, and instead of running out in front of me, she remained at my side. Not a good sign. But suddenly in our last half mile, she got a burst of energy. Way out in front of me now, she changed her gait from her usual working dog, head to the ground stride to the heads up energetic trot of a Lipizzaner stallion. I was relieved. She’s fine! Look at her, tail wagging, trotting along out in front of me, full of energy in this heat. Look at—Doggie Beach, off to our right.
Why you little poser, I thought. Showing off for the other dogs!
I’d seen this transformation in her gait before. It happens whenever another dog is in sight. Usually it’s just any dog passing us, so her show-off trot shouldn’t have surprised me when we passed an entire beach full of dogs. It’s hilarious to me that a dog could be so much like a person. I wonder if she would wait to turn a corner before she stopped to walk, or would start running again just as she turns down the block for home. Not that I would ever do this, I’m just saying.
Regardless, I think it’s safe to say both my dog and I are looking forward to cooler weather, when we can consistently trot out to show off—I mean, go for nice, long, albeit rather slow, runs together.