Walk your dog

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I’m not a fast runner but I run. I run most days and this is one of the great highlights of my day. Running is where I get my thinking done, running is the way I intend to keep my blood pressure down and running is (sometimes) how I relax.

Time and again when I’m on my runs I encounter others out doing their thing. My favorite is to encounter other runners who are out doing their thing at their own pace. I love to say hello to those going faster than me. I love to give a cheery smile to those going slower. I love that we’re all out there in our own struggle racing against ourselves, racing against time doing our own thing.

Often when I’m out for a run I encounter people out walking their dogs. I suspect for the regulars in this crowd their dog walking time is like my running time. A mix of health and pleasure, thinking time, and more. I often don’t say hello to those walking the dogs unless I know both the person and the dog, but rather I give a little wave. I find that if I speak the dog thinks that I’m addressing them and decides to pull itself towards me thus disrupting the owner’s walk and frankly scaring me a bit too.

I’m scared even though I’m a dog owner. I don’t know why this is but while i’m running I’m startled by your dog unless I know they can’t leave the yard or your pull. I know I was bitten as a child so perhaps my fear is still there and more primal and real when I’m already in flight mode and know there aren’t too many other gears left in these old bones for super flight from a dog. Or perhaps it’s something else. My wife is a trained Marriage and Family Therapist, but I don’t want to talk to her about these few encounters.  Rather, I want people with dogs to make sure they don’t pull towards the on-coming runner. I want them to reel the dog’s leash in just a bit when I’m headed their way.

It’s not that I’m unfriendly — but I don’t want to be chased or threatened by any dog be it big or little. I just want to go on my run and think my thoughts. I want to push myself a bit, I want to shed a few calories and keep that blood pressure down. I want to greet my neighbors and fellow runners too.

So, when I give you a head nod while you’re walking your dog instead of a hearty hello know that it’s shorthand for a hearty hello. Also know that when you reel in your dog just a little I appreciate it a lot as I feel like you’re acknowledging me as a fellow human being who is important enough to help, even if that help is allowing me to feel safer on the road.

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Brian S Collier, Ph.D.
107 Sandner Hall - Office 206M
University of Notre Dame
Notre Dame, IN 46556