Running with my dog

Nine years ago, I somehow convinced my parents (mostly my dad) to let me adopt a dog for my thirteenth birthday. We went to the Humane Society a week before my birthday and found a quiet, scared four-month old dog. According to the tag, she was a Border collie-pointer mix. So we adopted her and I named her Bella.

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Fast forward a few months. Turns out, Bella was not actually quiet. She had kennel cough which turned into pneumonia. After a hefty vet bill, she turned out to be an incredibly high energy, vocal, ill-behaved, stubborn dog. And she’s not smart. At all. So instead of a well-behaved, easily trainable Border collie mix, I got what my dad calls “the Tasmanian devil.” (The accuracy of this description is null when it comes to my dad.)

Nevertheless, I started running with Bella when she was old enough. She’s never learned how to run politely on a leash but she’s certainly better than she used to be. So, I thought I’d share what running with her is like.

Running with Bella is a bit like flying a kite. She swings wildly from side to side, pulling the whole time. She sounds like a she-devil with all the wheezing but she has a high pain tolerance so she pulls and pulls and pulls, no matter what I do.

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Running with Bella usually involves at least one sprint. She is terrified of big trucks. And motorcycles. And older cars with large engines. And buses. So when we hear one or have to cross a street with a slightly higher traffic flow, we sprint.

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Running with Bella sometimes involves stopping every ten feet for her to sniff, pee, or get a drink out of the river, creek, or canal (depending on where we’re running.) This is only enjoyable if it’s the last few miles of a long run because it’s a ready-made excuse to stop and breathe.

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The farthest I’ve ever run with Bella is ten miles. She was five years old at the time and we had been running consistently so she was well conditioned for the endeavor. At the end, believe it or not, she was still pulling. I was grateful for the extra motivation.

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Not related to running, but she’s almost impossible to photograph. She never stops moving. She’s also always happy. It’s a testament to her short attention span.

Sometimes I think, maybe dogs have it figured out. They don’t dwell on their failures or think about how they could have sniffed a tree differently. They just keep going, happy with life as long as it involves their human pack and dinner.

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There’s a bumper sticker my mom loves that I think sums up dogs as well as illustrates a good life philosophy: “Wag more. Bark less.”

 

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