Four years ago, Rachel and I introduced a wonderful addition to our lives. She was cute and cuddly, and it was love at first sight. Of course we had to get used to one another: getting up in the middle of the night, the feedings, and the obligatory picking up of poop (which is as bad as they say it will be). Yet the good always outweighed the...the what? the bad? the gross? the undeniably, life altering circumstances? Right on! And here we are, today: proud parents of a four-year-old, four legged creature, who somehow managed to survive the tidal floods of Hurricane Katrina and make her way up to Virginia. From mangy mutt, to spoiled bitch. That's our Mattie.
Mattie is my first dog (there was a brief moment in my youth where we had a very ornery cat named, Groucho, who didn't take too kindly to my arrival, i.e. birth). And I couldn't wait to get her on the road running with me. Once she figured out -- as many of us do in our first races -- the importance of not going out too fast and running at the front, she adapted quite well. In fact, last year I had her running nine-milers with me after work. We were inseparable, Mattie and me, particularly when Rachel started commuting into D.C. every day. Running was our thing and we were out on the roads scalding dogs.
But then something happened. All of the sudden, Mattie decided she didn't like running anymore. She'd see that harness come out and she'd shirk away, head drooping between her shoulders, tail wrapped tightly around butt. I had to lure her out from under the table, ususally invovling some high-pitched emasculating voice, and once I did, we trotted down the stairs AND...she hit the brakes. I mean emergency brake style. This dog wasn't going nowheres.
I didn't know what to do at first. I tried to coax her along. She turned to sniff something in the grass. I tried the stern, parental "stop embarrassing me in front of these people" voice. She bent down and licked herself. Sure, I could have been sad. My companion ditching me after all those great trails together. F-that. I was pissed! I tugged, and I pulled, and I swore, and I muttered under my breath. And after this mature stand off, I said, "FINE," and led/force marched her back to the front door, unclipped the leash, tossed it in the house with her, and went on my merry way...alone.
Mattie and I are fine now. Occassionally she runs with me, but mostly not. However, today became one of the few days she joined me. I took her to Burke Lake, a leafy 4.7 mile loop around, you guessed it, Burke Lake. Everything started off fine. I've tended to run slower with her whenever we do go out, so she was my built in recovery pace today. A half mile in, she stops. She gives me the look that says, "I'm done, Pop," In my head she calls me Pop. "I won't be tricked." I forgot to mention I've tried different tactics, like not bringing the harness and pretending we're just going for a walk. "That's right, see, just a nice mosey, and oh, oh, look we're running. We're running and it's fun." That only worked once. With each step back toward the car, her pace quickened. With each step forward down the trail, she stopped. After a couple rounds of this, she agreed, or relented, I'm not sure, which. She's a dog after all and can't speak.
We got through the 4.7 miles at a nice conversational pace I might add. She trotted the entire way, but a good leash length behind me...just enough so that I had to pull her along some...bitch. And now, she's sprawled out next to me, snoring softly, and dreaming the dreams of dogs. No doubt running through a field, chasing after that stupid rabbit that keeps coming into our backyard.
Anyhow, you might say that my runs have gone to the dogs. Except I wouldn't say that, because she hates it. *sigh*