Every May, the Oregon Humane Society holds Doggie Dash, a 2.5-mile run to benefit the animals at the shelter. Since 2.5 miles is almost exactly what Coach Danny and I run five times a week, and since I’ve been volunteering at OHS for three years, this seemed like a good spring to run my first race since I specialized in the 400m in high school.
Coach Danny, it seems, will not be running with me, though. First off, he’s a high-strung Kelpie mix, and a gaggle of dogs and people at the starting line are likely to wind him up so far he’ll spin out for the entire 2.5 miles. Other knowledgeable dog folks said he might be excited at first, but that he would settle into his run pretty quickly. That seemed plausible. Also, he might do okay if he were familiar with the route.
We took him on a test walk a couple days ago. It was a cool, cloudy Sunday morning with the occasional drizzle — perfect for our purposes. There were people around, but not as many as a sunny day would bring out. We tackled a bridge first to see how he would do with traffic passing nearby. The sidewalk was wide enough that the cars and trucks didn’t freak him out, and I had him heel as groups of people walking for lymphoma research passed. After the first mile of frantic sniffing on the other side of the bridge, he did settle a bit and even sat nicely while we chatted with a friend who was teaching a photography class that morning.
The second bridge we had to cross was more challenging. A train passed by, its engines echoing under the steel trusses. We were on a separate walkway that runs alongside the tracks, which made Danny feel safer — until the walkway went from concrete bricks to steel. Turns out Danny does not like walking on steel. He spread his toes and hunkered down as we hustled down the walkway. A girl and her dad passed us at a jog, and the girl turned back to look at Danny as she ran. When we had reached the end of the walk and were back on cement, she asked if she could pet Danny. He loves middle-schoolers, so this was the perfect reward for being so good on the scary steel. Better even than the Zuke’s treats in my pocket.
But he wasn’t done yet. The walk along the east side of the river has floating sections with — you guessed it — steel decks. On the edges, the steel has holes punched in it for drainage. Danny hates bridges. Danny hates water. Danny hates walking on steel. He was quite uncomfortable.
So in the end, it doesn’t matter how Danny behaves with other people and dogs at the starting line of Doggie Dash. He doesn’t like walking on steel, and I don’t blame him. He can root for me from home on May 14. If I reach my fundraising goal of $250, he gets a new water bowl. You can contribute to Doggie Dash and OHS (and that End Petlessness water bowl) at my race web site.