Saturday, April 14, 2012

the kate escape

you know who likes running?

my dog.

kate loves getting out of the house and away from her pack-mates. they're barky little dogs, and kate isn't much into the barking. she's smart and affable and disinclined to scurry around yapping every time a raindrop hits the house.

so, a couple times a week we gear up and head over to discovery park, a semi-sane place where people and dogs and other wildlife can go be bucolic for awhile. to forget, temporarily, that we live just a jog from downtown and jammed-up traffic and foolish urban errands.

i say, "kate, go for a run?" and she heads toward the door, waiting for her leash. she does a little dance and bursts out the door ahead of me, like a racehorse at the gate. and so we go.

i keep her on the leash most of the time, but if there aren't too many people about (i.e., when the weather sucks), i let her off to run. i wasn't sure what to expect the first time i did that, semi-worried she'd disappear into the woods after a squirrel. nope. she stays right with me, within a few feet ahead or behind. i find that very endearing.

in the park, we transition from road to paved trail to dirt trail, winding our way through woods, over hills, always in sight of water to the west. on a clear day, the olympic mountains glow crystal white across the sound, breathtaking. and so we go.

the vet says kate is built for five to seven miles of running, tops, so we keep our little journeys to 4.5 - 5.5 miles. i'm now "training" for a half-marathon in june, so on "long run" days of eight, nine, a dozen miles, i'll have to leave her home.

running alone, i wear headphones and listen to music. with kate, the headphones stay home and we talk to each other. yes, i do most of the talking, but she communicates very well...

"i need to slow down a bit."
"i'm thirsty."
"i'm going to roll in this grass now."
"i have to pee."

(note: those are the things i say to her. generally, she just says, "whatever, dude.")

kate was a rescue. she was abused early in life, and when we got her at six months old, she was like some feral creature that didn't even know she was a dog. it was the little dogs who taught her how to be part of the pack (for which i'll always be grateful...even if they are yappy little dogs).

that was two and a half years ago. people who met kate back then can't believe how much she's changed. the dog who cowered and cringed and feared every unfamiliar sound has transformed into a confident, attention-seeking biscuit-hound. "she's a completely different dog," they say, perhaps thinking such a thing was impossible.

she still doesn't like loud noises, but then again, neither do i. which is another reason the park and its quietude and expansive breathability are so appealing. also...i'm grateful for the company. much better than the headphones.

kate likes running.

and so we go.

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