You don’t know me, but we have met several times. I often see you walking your spaniel when I run in Ravenswood Park. I don’t mind that you let your dog off the leash when you’re on the trails. I think it’s cool. Dogs love to run, and they love the woods. I feel the same way.
I don’t blame the dog when it runs at me and I have to stop, usually at the bottom of a hill, while it jumps on me, smearing mud on my sweatshirt. Every. Single. Time. It’s not the dog’s fault. He thinks we’re friends. He’s right. We are.
I usually don’t mind waiting while you roll your eyes and finish the cell phone conversation you’re having (“Gotta go. Dog’s being stupid.”), let loose a dramatic sigh, and pretend-rush down the trail to grab his collar. I don’t mind that you don’t get the hint when you say “He’s a bad dog” and I respond, “It’s not his fault. He’s a dog. It’s what they do.” I admit to feeling a little sorry for the animal because he always seems to put his tail between his legs when you come storming up. Spending time in the woods with a dog isn’t a chore, ma’am. It’s a joy.
I must admit your responsiveness seems to have waned in recent weeks. You don’t even apologize any more, and you don’t bother to finish your phone call or text or whatever you are doing to distract yourself from the natural beauty that surrounds you. On Thursday you didn’t even look at me, and just stuck your hand in the air like a cop directing traffic.
So I hope you didn’t mind that I decided to keep running this morning, and your dog followed me more than half a mile down a side trail. We could both hear you yelling but neither of us wanted to stop. We were having fun. He sure does like mud! And after the rain this week, there was a lot of it. You did not seem that happy to see all that wet filth when we circled back to meet you at the parking lot.
So I’m sure you’ll accept my apologies for the fact that your wet, muddy, happily panting dog shook himself clean all over the inside of your Subaru Forester. (I think his bandana’s pretty trashed too.) Why bother having an SUV if it’s not going to get a little dirty, right? A little baking soda and elbow grease should do the trick.
It wasn’t his fault. Like me, he feels free when running in the woods. We animals don’t mind the mud.
Hope to see you again soon,
Fat Man of the Mountains
P.S. You called dog Sidney. Or is it Sydney? You seem like a multiple-Y person.