About a year ago, I started running. Voluntarily, with nothing chasing me. I bought good sneakers that fit my orthotics (my knees have history) and a Wind Breaker and a little belt in which to keep my phone for music. I used the Couch To 5K app to help me get started. If you were around my neighborhood, you’d see me jogging and walking and jogging and walking and huffing and puffing three days a week. I did it for exercise and to help prepare for a musical I was in last summer.
(To be clear, I tried to take Zozo with me. He wasn’t having it. It could be I was too slow or he was too interested in pooping when there were no cans around. Either way, opportunity lost.)
I hate running. I struggle with it, but I keep at it. I like the fresh air. I like reporting back on homes for sale or new lawn decorations. But mostly, I like that I get a chance to see neighborhood dogs.
Bradley is a handsome Sheltie who trots his dad along. When he sees you, no matter how far off, he sits and waits. His dad waits, too. You may not pass Bradley without petting him, for he will follow you until you pet him. Sometimes coming and going, I get some Bradley love. Bradley’s dad gets a lot of interrupted walks.
Ariel is a German Shepherd with the largest ears I’ve ever seen. She moved into a house as a puppy, and it’s been amazing to watch her grow into her feet. Her eyes are amber. When her dad walks her to the local middle school to collect her human siblings, she’s off-leash, focused and disinterested in sharing the sidewalk. Disciplined. So disciplined.
There’s a dog– sometimes two– that live in a house one street over. I refer to this dog as Evil Dog. I think his name is Storm. I’m not sure. He’s a fence charger and a jail-breaker. From out of no where, he’ll come charging the fence, barking at passers-by, not at all phased by the beeping of the electric fence collar his owners have on him for extra restraint. Maybe I’m being unkind– I suspect he’s lonely, bored, or poorly socialized– but he scares me to death every. damn. run. (One time he hopped the fence and walked to Home Depot. He was found in the plumbing section.)
A Burmese Mountain Dog broke away from his tweenage companion and knocked me over, stood on my legs and licked my hair. The crackle of a changing voice screaming “MOM”, “HELP” and “HE’S JUST A PUPPY” was heartbreaking. When I realized I wasn’t being mauled to death, we all calmed down and had a giggle. And then I cried the rest of the way home. Run cut short. (They have a fence now.)
The long-haired Chihuahua. This little thing, wearing a bedazzled orange harness, came running yap-yap-yap out of an open garage and chased me down the street. When I turned back to him, he put his tush down and hushed. I walked towards him and he backed up, turned around and started towards home. I resumed my run and he resumed his. I picked up my pace and flipped a corner. I have no idea where he went, but I hope it was home, along the sidewalk.
There’s a beagle who guards a neighbor’s chicken coop and generally hangs out in the middle of the street. He’s a weirdo. People just drive around him, or get out of their cars to shoo him home.
There’s an older Korean gentleman who walks his cat. I want to make friends with him.