I relish new running experiences. Fun-sounding race making its debut? Sign me up! A friend tells me about a cool trail or road route they’ve discovered? Point me in its direction.
So when Robin Hood and I were dog-sitting for a good friend of ours last weekend, I decided that the time had come.
I wanted to try running with a dog.
Now it helped that the dog – Kiva, the prettiest little pit bull you ever saw – behaves almost absurdly well. I actually don’t think I have ever heard her bark. It also helped that I knew her level of fitness is pretty good, and I knew that virtually any time spent outside makes her ecstatically happy.
Still, I didn’t want to get cocky my first time out, so I planned conservatively: Kiva and I would run a short couple of loops through the neighborhood, early on Sunday morning. No busy intersections, no unfamiliar streets, not a lot of traffic, vehicular or otherwise.
Sunday morning came around, and Kiva knew something was up as soon as I started putting on running clothes. By the time I picked up her leash, she was practically levitating from excitement.
When was the last time you were that eager to go for a run??
I snapped on her leash and we trotted out into the gorgeous spring morning. I had the leash in one hand and a plastic grocery bag – because you just never know – in the other. By then, we were both excited.
I loved it. There is just something about running with a dog that changes your whole perspective of running. As I ran along beside Kiva, I wasn’t thinking about my pace, or how nice it would feel to be back in bed snoozing a little longer. I wasn’t thinking about my plans for the rest of the day.
I wasn’t thinking about myself at all. I was enjoying the scenery around me. When you’re out with a dog who in that moment is just thrilled with fresh air and sights and smells and sounds and life in general, it’s hard not to pick up a little of that feeling. Maybe you hold your head a little higher. Maybe you’re more alert. Maybe you smile, or even laugh, for reasons you would have rolled your eyes at on any other run.
Kiva impressed me. When other dogs barked loudly from behind walls and fences, she cantered on, totally unfazed. When we passed other pedestrians, she gave them a glance and not much else. She didn’t seem to tire at all, and probably could have kept going for a while, had I been able to figure out a way to gracefully run while carrying a bag of dog poop. Turns out it’s harder than it seems [that’s another benefit to running with a dog – it keeps you humble. It’s tough to have a big head when you’re carrying poop].
Would I do it again? Absolutely. That was the most fun I’ve had on a run in a while. The appeal of running with a dog – I finally get it.
Here’s to our four-legged friends.