I am a reluctant exerciser, and in particular, a reluctant runner. But run I do, thanks to my 80-lb. white German shepherd, Bodhi. Before Bodhi, I would find lots of excuses to just NOT do it. You know what I mean. There are so many other pressing things to do, like re-organizing cupboards and planning vacations you can’t afford to take.
Chicks & Dogs is a guest blog series featuring tales about, you guessed it, ladies and the dogs in their lives. The voices in this series are as varied as the pooches we all adore. In this post, discover how one dog helped his person put one foot in front of the other when she needed to most.
Dogs, however, have no need to organize anything beyond a bone or two, and hey, every day’s a vacation chez Bodhi. Dogs want to be outside. They want to nibble grass, bark at squirrels, and stop and smell the hydrants. And dogs like Bodhi want to run.
This was something I always knew, sort of, but the dogs I’d spent time with wanted to chase something, or run with other dogs. Bodhi wanted to run with me. I fought it in the beginning, eventually realizing I didn’t have a lot of choice in the matter. Bodhi needs time with me and he needs to burn off an incredible amount of energy every day. He’s too big for backyard exercise and a bit too aggressive for the dog park. The only simple solution is to clip on a leash and go.
So we do. Our route varies, taking us through terrain that includes now familiar formal gardens, restored prairie, golf courses, and alongside lakes or the creek, depending on the day. And while I curse and complain on early mornings as I climb into my sweats, search for poop bags and tie my shoes, once I’m out the door, I discover what Bodhi knows instinctively: it’s good to be outside, it’s good to chase squirrels (they really belong in trees) and it’s good to clip along at a steady pace, feeling the earth move under our feet and the wind sing in our ears.
The funny part is, Bodhi was a rescue who came into my life just when I needed him to; in fact, he rescued me from the sadness and anger I felt at the end of my marriage. Physical activity helped channel the anger into something constructive, and gave me a sense of accomplishment and buoyancy—states of mind I hadn’t enjoyed in months.
And of course, running together strengthened our bond and continues to do so. Life is good again, but there’s no slacking off. From the moment I get up, Bodhi shadows me, nudging my arm whenever I become too intent on my computer screen. Plenty of time for that later, he seems to say. And when I finally reach for the leash, his excitement is electric—so much so that it never fails to make me smile.
It’s a daily reminder of our partnership: I give him love, food, and a comfortable home, and he gives me love, joy and a healthier body. I’d say I’m getting the better deal, but he’d just say, whatever—let’s go outside.
Susan Bonne is a freelance writer and editor who lives and runs with Bodhi in south Minneapolis and shares custody of a ball-obsessed yellow lab. In her free time, she enjoys buying giant bags of kibble and reassembling eviscerated toys.