I used to run with my dog, Gryffon. He’s a nice dog, and he likes going for runs with me. The problem with doing this in the summer is that he’s got this super-thick coat, so he gets really hot. I imagine it would be like me putting on my snowsuit and ear-flaps hat in the middle of August and going for a run. Not very enjoyable. Still, Gryffon did it because 1) he likes to get out of the yard once in a while and see what there is to see, 2) he likes being with me, and 3) he was attached to me via the leash. Winter runs were much nicer for him (and for me, because Gryffon slobbers a LOT when he’s hot, and I would arrive back at home with dog saliva dripped and splattered on my bare legs), and he was okay in the spring and fall, too. And I felt I was being a good pet owner by taking him to get some exercise.
When Gryffon was about two years old, we brought home his sister, Gracie. She also liked to go running with me, though she was never as good at it as Gryffon. Running with Gryffon meant that I ran and held onto a leash while Gryffon ran beside me. Running with Gracie meant that I ran and held onto a leash while Gracie got distracted by every bird and squirrel she saw or smelled and tried to run off with me so she could catch them. Gracie thought going for a run was a blast. I wasn’t so jazzed about it.
A few times, I tried to run with both of them — one leash in each hand, so I was sandwiched by dogs. This did not work so well. On my right, I had well-behaved Gryffon. On my left was crazy-eyed Gracie ready to attack unsuspecting groundhogs while dragging me behind her. I would spend the entire run yanking her leash, telling her to heel, and being frustrated. Oh, and being sandwiched between two dogs who don’t always have the sense of personal space that I like to have during a run. One of them was always bumping against me.
So, I thought, I will just take them one at a time. On a Tuesday run, I’ll take Gracie. On a Wednesday run, I’ll take Gryffon. That seemed fair. I would still get my runs in, still give the dogs some exercise and a change of scenery, and all would be well. Except that the dogs didn’t understand the concept of taking turns. It didn’t matter that I would say, “Gracie, I took you yesterday, remember? Now it’s Gryffon’s turn.” She would whine when Gryffon got to wear the leash and go with me. Even when my husband was home to keep her company, she would cry until I got back. Then Gryffon started doing it when I would take Gracie. It seemed that the only way to avoid whining, crying doggies was either to take them both, or leave them both at home.
So lately, I have not been taking them. They look wistfully at me when I put on my running shoes. They sigh dejectedly as I go out the door. I remind myself that holding a leash while I’m running messes up my form, that the dogs bump against me and threaten to wreck my gait. I tell myself that they get enough exercise by running around the yard, chasing each other. But I look into their brown eyes and wonder if all that is true.
Maybe after work today, I’ll take Gryffon for a little run.