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.