Crossing Paths

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I love that summer is here, bringing with it 90+ degree temperatures and wonderful sunshine. I love the lingering daylight and the ability to stay outside late into the evening. But for all its benefits, I have to admit that it’s made marathon training very, very difficult. I often feel like I’m walking as much as I’m running. And sometimes it’s discouraging.

Tonight, the high school’s high-tech signage showed that it was 98 degrees, but a nice breeze kept things a little more manageable than recent runs. Towards the end of my run (walk/run/walk/run is more like it), I noticed a man walking his yellow lab up a hill about a block ahead of me. At first, I didn’t think much of it. But then I saw that the dog was straining against her owner’s leash to look over her shoulder in my direction. After becoming annoyed with her owner’s tugging on the leash, the dog sat down in the middle of the sidewalk, staring intently in my direction, refusing to budge. As I got closer, I realized that she was watching me and waiting for me to arrive. The owner had given up and let the dog wait for me to chug up the hill. When I reached her, she thumped her tail softly on the sidewalk, sniffed my hands and let me scratch her head. After a few seconds, I said goodbye and went on my way. When I glanced back at the dog and her owner, they had proceeded with their walk also. But their vibe was much different. It was relaxed. No straining against the leash, no looking over shoulders. Maybe you had to be there, but I thought it was really…odd. Sweet, but odd. I love dogs, but I’m not a dog-whispering type of person. I’m nobody special. Yet this dog had clearly honed in on me. It feels weird to assign human attributes or motives to a dog, but I sort of wondered if she was concerned about me. Guess I’ll never know for sure, so there’s no point in giving it this much thought. But it was a really nice encounter.

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