Running with dogs

It rained most of Monday and he whined at the windows and doors so when the rain stopped and cracks appeared in the grey skies we went for a run.

It was early afternoon and the sun breaking through was hot and mist rose from the wet pavement at the top of the hill, steam in the muggy air.

He’d given up pulling and trying to follow scents and check out trees and clumps of grass and now he ran beside me, easily, tongue hanging out the side of his mouth but head up. We’re working on that, running together, partners in afternoon exercise rather than opposing forces on either end of a leash.

Today he was doing well.

We saw her as we rounded the corner, heading back down the hill. She was weeding a wild flower bed of tall pink poppies and roses all tangled together, but she stopped and stood when we passed.

“Is this the first time you’ve run up here?” she wanted to know and no, I run there often, but usually in the evenings, not in the afternoon.

She must be in the back garden, then, she said, because she hasn’t seen us before. She wondered how old he was, and was surprised that he isn’t a puppy. There’s something undeniably puppy-ish in his face, in the short snout  and soft ears and eager eyes; everyone thinks he’s younger than his two years.

We ran on and she returned to her weeding. But stops like that come often when I run with him. Neighbors sitting on porches call out as we pass. “We’ve been arguing,” one woman calls one day. “How old is he?” The old man on the porch sounds pleased when I tell them; he must have guessed older than the woman. And again they want to talk. He’s so good, running like that, where did I get him? Their daughter got a dog from there too, he’s really good too. I need to come by sometime when she’s here.

I guess dogs get playdates too?

Often we take the baby, strapped in a carrier against my chest or sitting in her stroller. And then it’s hard to get far at all without being stopped. The baby smiles at anyone who smiles at her and the dog tangles himself in the stroller wheels and at every four-way stop we’re waved through, drivers waiting for us to pass so slowly.

We’ve had Crockett for a month now, just a little over. And already I recognize more neighbors than I did before. I guess dogs are good for that, too.


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