My sister woke us all up at 4am to go to the bathroom, and after a serious face licking attack and the cold blast of air from the dog bathroom we were all wide awake. Mom was going to try to take advantage of the early start to make sure that we hit the trail so early that there would be nobody there, but first she dilly-dallied, then we needed to defrost the windshield, then she forgot her wallet, then she needed to get gas, then we had to turn back to the car because she forgot something. By the time we actually got running, it was the first light of dawn, a time when it would occur to other people to also be on the trail.
Once safely away from any parking areas, and (hopefully) the first ones up the trail, Mom let us off leash. We were being very good chasing each other down the trail, but always coming back for a treat as soon as Mom called us. We were so well behaved that Mom was even thinking that she might leave us off leash through the whole run… Then, on one of our sprints around a bend we met 3 Friends (2 with 2 legs, 1 with 4). THEY must have gotten out of the house on time, because they had already run up and were coming back down the mountain when we met them. The little four-legged runner was a real spoil-sport. We came up on him like two excited, socially awkward bowling balls: “Hi! We’re twins! Come play with us!” [BOOM! Squeak!] “Right now we’re playing the Run Over Little Dogs Game.” And that was the end of us getting to run off leash.
The trouble with running in the woods with your human on leash is that people – bouncing on one foot at a time as they do – have really crummy balance. This means that they choose unpredictable paths, often insist on taking the best lines for themselves, sometimes change speed without any notice, and get really grouchy if you accidentally pull on them on uncertain ground like a steep downhill or muddy spot. Not to mention the complication of climbing over fallen trees or hopping rocks across a river while on leash. You could get yelled at for all kinds of stuff. It can get really stressful, which is why I always try to run with Mom where I can see her, so she doesn’t get into any trouble.
But my sister doesn’t know all this stuff. She’s used to running free in the woods, so we had lots of near pile-ups as she cut Mom off in narrow spots, pulled Mom into the deep parts of puddles and at one memorable moment got a knee to the butt when she stopped short just as Mom was about to leap a puddle.
We were doing okay, figuring each other out and less than a mile from finishing a successful run when the inevitable finally happened: a bunny popped out and ran down the trail in front of us. My sister took off at the same moment that Mom used her Monster voice and dug into a halt. Bodie kept bounding after the bunny for half a second until she reached the end of the leash in mid-air, and the bungee recoiled. Boi-oi-oinggggg! It was like my sister was a bug hitting an invisible windshield, and she came bouncing back to us, not really knowing what hit her.
The bunny got away, and Mom made us go back to the car after that. On the way out we saw another little dog leaping and yapping at the end of her leash. Without so much as a nod, we both ran straight on by. It is only the snobby know-it-all well behaved dogs that deserve to be mowed down by this dynamic duo, you see. Mom is baffled by it, but clearly my sister gets it.
-Oscar the Pooch