On a recent hike with my dog I encountered an older man walking with several of his own four legged friends. He grinned as he watched my dog run circles around his two aging pups, Ingrid low and tight as she tucked her body into her flight. My dog was built for speed, and her body is an athletic power punch that I attempt to keep toned with her diet and regular exercise. But it’s moments like this, when I see her through other people’s eyes, that I’m also proud. After watching my dog for a moment, the man looked up at me before moving on and said, “aren’t dogs wonderful?”
We were hiking the open fields and woods along the Sandy River, an expanse of land officially designated by the county as an off-leash dog park and recreation area. The only one of its kind in the area that I know of, it’s an oasis of off-leash hiking that both my dog and I revel in. On-leash walks around the neighborhood are necessary forms of exercise in the city, especially in the early morning hours before work, and again after a long day, but off-leash jaunts are always our preferred form of exercise. This is especially true for the dog herself, of course, because as frustrated as I am by her straining against the leash and constant stopping to smell every-single-square-inch of our walk, I imagine it’s a hundred times worse for her to be trudging alongside a two legged creature who insists on walking at the irritatingly slow pace of death. And really, I’m going as fast as I can. A slow walk is better than no walk, but an off-leash walk is the best.
So yes, while I agree with the stranger’s sentiments that dogs are indeed wonderful, I’d like to amend that with sometimes. It’s my own fault for forcing my working breed dog to live a city life, I know, and Ingrid really is a great dog, but wonderful? I’m not so sure.
Oh, who am I kidding? My dog is pretty wonderful.
But then again, I imagine yours is too.