Running with Dog

When we got a dog, I knew we’d have to be more active. But I didn’t know how much more active.

Gatsby is a largish dog, and young. If he doesn’t get walked at least twice a day, he gets antsy. He wakes up too early and barks at too much. 

So, now I walk 30-60 minutes every day. If it’s not too hot (it has been) I hike with him. We live within walking distance of miles and miles of trails.  And I’ve done more activities even if they’re not specifically aimed at walking him: taking him to public places to socialize him; washing him; taking him to the dog park; even cleaning up his poop from the backyard all require me to get off my butt and burn calories.

We’ve had him since July, and I’m now noticing a difference.

The other day, I had to bring something to a kid’s school. It was 100 degrees, but I parked my car beyond the loading zone, then ran all the way to the office. I didn’t feel the heat. I didn’t even feel winded. 

It was totally bizarre.

I took Little Girl to the allergist’s office. We always take the stairs up and last time we ran them. No big deal. I guess moving to a house with stairs may also contribute to my stair-mastery, but still.

I used to love running. Used to be the fastest one at my school, until third grade. I outran the boys. That time, when I was about 9, was the last time I remember really liking running.

I’m not sure what changed, except I started getting taller and heavier and slower. I wore stupid shoes to school, dress shoes you couldn’t run in very well. I never really ran again.

I remember the first time I ran after I had a baby. I was actually in an indoor class where you had to run around the gym perimeter as a warm-up, and I did, and suddenly there was a big gush of fluid and SURPRISE! I’d peed myself. Not a good look. Do that once and you definitely don’t want to risk it again.

And then I thought I should work up to running, but I hated it. Hated things flopping. Feeling like I was wearing some weird skin and fat suit over my regular bones, a suit I wanted to peel off. My knees hurt every time I tried. Or my feet. Or I’d start wheezing so hard I needed an inhaler. Something.

But not tonight.

Tonight, we went for a walk. There’s a loop we take, up and down a hill.  I ran, then walked, then ran. I ran uphill. Gatsby ran with me. It was dark and quiet, after nine. I ran for one block further than I thought I could, and then another half block after that, just because.

And it felt good.

I didn’t pee my pants. If things flopped, I didn’t notice. Nothing hurts now. I was a little winded, a little wheezy, but I caught my breath right away. 

I remembered, then. What it felt like when I was little. So light and quick. Nobody in the houses even knew we were there. The dog at the corner didn’t bark. I looked down at my dog running beside me and he looked up at me, and he jumped up, for joy, just because we were moving fast. 

I might do this again. Thanks to my dog.

Published by Margaret Dilloway

Middle grade and women's fiction novelist. FIVE THINGS ABOUT AVA ANDREWS, (Balzer + Bray 2020); SUMMER OF A THOUSAND PIES. MOMOTARO: Xander and the Lost Island of Monsters (Disney Hyperion); TALE OF THE WARRIOR GEISHA and SISTERS OF HEART AND SNOW, out now from Putnam Books. HOW TO BE AN AMERICAN HOUSEWIFE was a finalist for the John Gardner fiction award. THE CARE AND HANDLING OF ROSES WITH THORNS is the 2013 Literary Tastes Best Women's Fiction Pick for the American Library Association. Mother of three children, wife to one, slave to a cat, and caretaker of the best overgrown teddy bear on Earth, Gatsby the Goldendoodle.

One thought on “Running with Dog

  1. Envy you the running. I’m a bit too old now to run but a good walk always does me good. There’s nothing like being out in fresh air and checking out the rest of our world. I’m inside tooooo much. Perhaps this will encourage me to start walking again. WE live on a highway which is not too conducive to walking. You have to get over in the weeds to avoid maniacs. However there is a cul de sac nearby and I can use that. Hummmm. Maybe I will. Thanks – your post is motivating me. Love that you have a dog. All kiddies need a dog to love on. Too bad mom always has the most work with a pet but sounds as though he is serving double duty. Cheers!

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