Monday, October 4, 2010

The Dogs I've Run With, part 2

Yesterday: 90 minutes of flag football, 3.6 easy miles
Today: 6 recovery miles at 8:47 pace

This morning I ran the Shoal Creek trail from 38th St to 15th St, and then looped back to my apartment through UT Austin's campus.  The Shoal Creek trail runs North-South along Lamar Blvd and eventually connects to the Town Lake trail in the downtown area.  I am very fond of this trail.  This morning there were lots of beings, both human and canine, out enjoying the trail!

That of course brings me to my topic for today, running with dogs part 2.  Last time I told you about the dogs I grew up with, Brandy and Cella.  I have also had the pleasure of running with a few other dogs since moving to Austin.  The first is Bojangles.

Bojangles is a 160+ lb male, un-neutered great dane who thinks he is a lap dog.  He is the faithful companion of another ChemE in my program and I have babysat Bojangles when his owners were out of town.  This dog is a big goof ball who loves attention, physical contact, walks and play time.  I once took him for a 3 mile run on the Shoal Creek trail, and he looked like a horse galloping.  And of course, whenever you take Bojangles anywhere, lots of people stop to ask you about him.  Many have never seen a dog that size, nor such a large un-fixed male (if you know what I mean). I always enjoy the opportunity to hang out with Bojangles, but as far as running companions go, he wasn't the best.  He overheated easily and didn't have a lot of endurance.  Frankly, I think walks are better suited for his personality.
Bojangles, next to a queen size bed
My next running companion was Nelson, an 80 lb St. Bernard/golden retriever mix that I fostered for about 3 weeks.  He was approximately a year old at the time and had been abused and starved by his former owners.  This left Nelson very territorial around food and unable to socialize with other dogs, but deep down he was the sweetest boy.  Even in the short time I had him, Nelson and I bonded a lot and established quite a connection.  He really craved affection and attention.  To burn off some of his energy, my boyfriend and I would take Nelson on runs, varying from 2.5 to 6.5 miles in length.  Nelson was a fireball, he had so much energy that my arm felt like it was being pulled out of its socket!  The sight of squirrels and birds made me fearful because Nelson was after them in seconds and still fixated, even when we were a quarter mile away.  Despite some bad leash manners, I enjoyed running with Nelson because he was such a happy puppy, and after his abusive background, it made me happy knowing that he was still so full of joy and love.
Nelson had this funny habit, in which whenever he scratched himself he involuntarily licked the air.  It was pretty adorable, and you can see it in all its glory in this video:

Ike is my most recent running companion.  I described him in a previous post.  As I mentioned, Ike is the 1.5 year old catahoula/boxer mix belonging to another classmate of mine.  He is super adorable, very vocal, affectionate, energetic, and athletic.  He loves running and has excellent endurance.  We've run for over an hour together before.  He is really well behaved off the leash and I prefer to take him to parks where he can run around and explore.  One morning while running at Walnut Creek, he disappeared behind some trees.  I heard a rustling and then a loud noise as an enormous Buck exploded from the trees and raced across the path with like Ike trying to hold on behind him.  That was probably the closest Ike has ever come to catching a deer and it was pretty exciting for him.  He also likes to hunt toads in my yard.  

Ike has developed a keen understanding of when I'm going running and it kills him to be left behind.  He recognizes my running shoes and clothes, and if I reach for any of these things he is up and by the door ready to come along.  For example, if I take out a sports bra or running shorts, he knows!  It sends him into a frenzy of excitement.  Whenever I babysit Ike, he is a great motivational tool for keeping my morning run routine going because I feel like I'm letting him down if we don't both get our daily dose of adrenaline.  In May, we took him with us for the Schlotsky's bun run 5k, which welcomes dogs and their owners, as long as they start towards the back.  Being in the back wasn't good enough for Ike, who always likes to be in the lead.  Given that this 5k has thousands of people, this wasn't an easy task to accomplish!  Ike pulled me through the crowd, weaving through impossible gaps; it felt like human slalom.  Then, as we went to cross the finish line, he freaked out and became very skittish at the sight of a man dressed in a large sandwich costume.  I guess sandwich costumes are pretty weird though.

I'm sure you will hear a lot more of the running adventures of Ike, because every once in a while I steal him from his dad.
Until next time, A

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