Tag Archives: random thoughts

Dear Deer

14 Oct

"No no don't worry about us. We're just here to steal your soul."

This is how I begin most of my mornings. Being stared down by a couple of deer.

I guess technically I don’t run at night… I just run so early in the morning that it’s too dark to see. At what time of the morning does it become not night and just early morning? Whoa okay guys I’ll try not to get too philosophical here.

The point is, often when I start my runs, it’s dark out. This can be anywhere from 5 – 7am. I wear a headlamp that looks similar to this one:

Headlamps: allowing kids to pretend to be as glamourous as miners since 1965.

Only it sticks out even further. I don’t think they even make the kind I have any more. Picture a unicorn that fell in a vat of industrial waste and now has the superpower of emitting a weak light through its horn. Which could have been accomplished with the unicorn’s inherent magic anyway. That’s what I look like. But you know what’s great about running at night/ so early that it’s dark? No human being is out and about to witness your shame!

But you know who do enjoy the early mornings? The deer. I live in a place where deer are very common. To point where they ain’t Bambi anymore, just unruly kids who eat up your tulips. The deer are simultaneously my comrades and my archenemies. Sometimes I give them a cool head nod like ‘hey bud, what’s up? We’re just two creatures hanging out at night, enjoying eating leaves and stuff’. Sometimes I even say hello if I’m feeling bold enough.

But you know how the deer respond, no matter what I say? They stare. They just stare at me, with those glowing eyes in the light of my headlamp. It’s unnerving. It forces one to recall that hey, wow, that deer is mighty big and remember that one video where a doe mauled a dog with her hooves?

So you start to back away, but they’re still watching you, stock still. They’ll continue watching you as you run off down the road. They won’t move until you’re out of sight. So don’t glance back, because those eyes… will be watching you.

Oh hiiiii. That's a nice headlamp you got there. I think I'd like to keep that headlamp.

Okay well that's just adorable.

This was supposed to be about the technicalities of running in the dark but I got side-tracked, by deer, as usual. Maybe tomorrow.

On Dogs that Want to Chase Me

14 Oct

A runner's worst nightmare

This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post. Today let’s explore the dark side of the relationship between running and dogs. I bring this up because on my run yesterday morning, I got chased by a grand total of FOUR DOGS. Usually I attract maybe one dog who’s exploring his yard in the morning, but never four on one run.

Fences are very unpopular where I live, unless you have a nice garden and you want to keep the deer out. This means that dogs are free to roam their owner’s yard, the neighbours’ yards, and the road in front of the house. There was one German Shepherd when I was growing up that specifically came into our backyard every morning to drop a deuce. It was annoying at first, then funny, and then back to annoying.

This doggy freedom must be nice for the canines, but for innocent joggers that get lunged at as they run down the street, it can be a heart-pounding experience.

You should know that 99% of dogs that come tearing towards you screaming bloody murder in dog language (barks and growls, etc.) just want to check you out and be on their way. They’re protecting their territory, and once they know you’re not a threat, they’ll trot away. Alternatively, flopping down on the road for a belly rub is a good option. Even a dog that’s behind a fence will bark at you until you’re far enough away that they can smile smugly to themselves and pat themselves on the back for being so good at scaring intruders away.

So how do you avoid being torn to pieces by aggressive dogs? This is from my experience only so if you find yourself with bite marks… I’m sorry, please don’t sue. When I see dogs coming towards me, I follow a couple of steps:

  1. First, slow right the eff down. Stop moving, and let the dog come to you.
  2. When they’re close enough, greet them like you’re happy to see them. A few “hi puppy, good puppy” types of things are good.
  3. Let them smell your hand when they approach.
  4. Meanwhile, don’t look them in the eye, as this can be seen as a challenge.
  5. Pet them if you get the sense that it would be okay with them.
  6. When they’re finished with you, slowly continue on your way. Better to slow the pace than to lose a couple fingers or something.

Likely, at worst, you’re going have mud prints on your new leggings from an overeager jumper. Usually the dog will demand a few ear scratches and then flounce away, content to know that you are not a threat.

I don’t have any advice for actually mean dogs that actually want to kill you. My go-to instinct is to punch faces but I don’t know how well that works with dogs. All I can say is good luck.

On Dogs

14 Oct

Dogs are the best running companions. They don’t talk back, or try to persuade you to call it a day, and they’re always excited for a run even if it’s 5:15 am and they can’t see the nose in front of their face. However, there are some issues I’ve encountered when running with my dog that I thought I would share.

I am 100% a dog person. I love dogs. I will probably spend more time with your dog than with you. I have a little Boston Terrier named Ruby and she is the light of my life. She’s likely cuter than your first-born. Evidence:

This is her looking ugly. Her puppy face would melt the Arctic.

Of course, she requires exercise and so do I.  However, our preferred methods of exercise are too different to be compatible. Boston Terriers are small dogs, weighing about 20lbs on average. They also have short little mushed up faces and it’s adorable… but not very conducive to endurance running. This is one problem with having a dog as your running companion; like humans, sometimes they’re just not as fit as you. Ruby loves her walks and she loves to spend her time sniffing around at stuff, but if she tries to keep up with my pace, she can’t do any of that. By around kilometer 6, she’s done. I love her for trying and never complaining but I know she’d have more fun on a walk. And to be honest, waiting for her really slows my roll guys. So she gets left behind.

But, there is a vast variety of breeds that can not only keep up with you, they will outrun you and want more runs the second they get home. These include larger dogs like German Short-Haired Pointers, German Shepherds, any sort of retriever, Dalmatians, etc etc. Pointers are a personal favourite of mine:

They actually do this instinctually. Major pro; constant reason to laugh at them.

These types of dogs, with larger statures, hunting genes, and fully protruding snouts are, by my research, the best kind of breeds for running companions. Jack Russells as well, despite those little legs, are very good at keeping up.

But you know what’s best? Get a dog that loves you and needs a home… and train them! Of course a dog won’t immediately be able to run a 15 miler with you right off the bat! Could you pull that off without any training? Dogs, like humans, need to build up their endurance. Unfortunately, I never took the time to do that with Ruby and now it’s too late. Of course, I could go back to a run/walk program like I started with… but I don’t want to. And that’s that. She likes walking more anyway, and this way, I get a second workout.

The second issue is well, you know, whether or not the dog’ll stick around for the run. Other options include sprinting into the woods after a squirrel, lingering behind to sniff someone’s butt and getting lost, and following the tempting smell of that dog that passed that tree that one time.

This is a matter of training. Even if your dog is on leash, they can still seriously bring down a run by tugging on the leash, stopping unexpectedly, or lunging at other dogs. This is annoying and could actually injure you. If off leash and untrained… all hell will break loose and you know it. Thankfully my Ruby is an angel off leash and we live in an area that allows it. She sticks about twenty feet behind me and if she gets distracted, I can get her focus back on me with a simple whistle and promise of a carrot. I’ve run on the road with her on leash though and it sucked hard. She was weaving in and around me and I nearly tripped and took us both to an early grave. Rather than train her to better on leash… I just stopped taking her on the road. Lazy yes, but effective.

So if you want to take your dog with you, on leash or off, save yourself some misery and put in the effort to train him or her. Obedience classes are a must to learn the basics, and constant reinforcement is crucial. Do you remember your Canadian history? No? NOBODY DOES. Because we never practice it. So train and practice and you and your dog will have the time of your lives running together.

Happy training everyone!