How my dog made me proud

I came home one evening this week after work and was eagerly greeted at the door by our dog. My wife and kids were out of town, and our dog had been home alone for a while, and she wanted to get outside.

Let me first tell you something about our dog: she’s a big 72 pounds, a Golden Labradoodle we rescued from the SPCA, is the sweetest thing alive and has tons of energy. Tons of energy. All she wants to do is run, sniff something, go to the bathroom, and then run and run and run more and more and more.

I do love her energy. And it’s actually been a forcing factor in getting me to run more. Almost every day, we jog our neighborhood loop in the morning, and then again in the evening. When she sees me walking towards the closet where I keep my running shoes, she knows it’s jogging time.

But this evening I did not feel like running. I was tired. I was hungry. And I was nursing a sprained ankle from my Sunday basketball game. There was no way I could run. I would only be able to walk her. Which meant we wouldn’t jog around the neighborhood, but rather I’d walk her to our nearby park so she could run around on her own off leash and sufficiently and enjoyably tire herself out.

She loves the large grass field at the park. She can gallop from end to end, she often finds sticks and tennis balls to chase down and she loves to roll around in the grass and root her nose in the dirt.

Only there was one issue. It (thankfully) rained here in San Francisco last week, and the grass field at the park I usually take her to that she loves so much to run on would be very muddy. And I didn’t want a muddy dog I would then to have to wash down upon our return. I was too tired to deal with it.

So I decided that we’d go to the park, but I wouldn’t let her run on the muddy grass. Instead I’d let her run on the adjacent, fenced-in concrete basketball and tennis court area.

When we got to the basketball and tennis court area, it was already dark out and empty, so I closed the gate behind me and let her off her leash and she took off. She started running in circles, galloping the length of the courts and looking for an abandoned tennis ball she could chomp on.

But not before long, she ambled up to the closed gate door and looked longingly at the nearby muddy grass field. I stood about thirty feet from her, and called her over a few times, to show her the benefits of running on the dry and cleaner basketball and tennis courts, but she always ended up back at the gate. She would whine and bark and scratch at the gate, hoping to get it open so she could make it to the grass.

I was just happy she stayed dry and clean.

I got a ping and took my phone out of my pocket and it was only after a few minutes of being distracted, that I heard the gate metal clang and looked up and before I could yell “No! Come back!” my dog had somehow nosed the chain link fence gate open and had bolted for the grass field.

What was most surprising to me was that at that moment, the first thought I had after seeing her on the grass field was “She’s free”. I was surprised that I wasn’t thinking of how muddy she was about to get or the washing I’d need to do when we got back home.

My first thought was “she’s free”. She wanted out of the tennis courts and want to get to the grass field. She didn’t listen to me. And she found a way to do so.

And when she was on the field, she did everything that came naturally to her. She galloped and found a ball to chase and she sniffed and tried to dig for animals burrowing under the surface.

She had set herself free. And while I didn’t appreciate the coat of mud she acquired in the effort, I have to say I admired her for it.

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