Friday, March 4, 2011

Kodi Zigzags

Kodi and I started running together occasionally this winter. We make a decent running team, tackling about 3 miles a few times a week. He is on a leash and I jog alongside. We both appreciate each others willingness to go at varying speeds. Kodi likes to stop and sniff and mark or wander onto a snowbank to check out an animal track or another dog's mark. I don't mind the pause, giving my knees and lungs a rest.

There is no doubt though that Kodi is a domestic dog and not a wild canid. He wanders and he zigzags. His wild brethren -- foxes and coyotes -- do not. Kodi can afford to be sloppy in his wanderings. He gets to come home to a nice meal, a warm house, and a comfortable sofa. By contrast, wild canids are efficient in their stride and tend to go in straight lines. They need to conserve energy.

When visiting my parents last week at their Winterberry Farm, I watched a coyote make a bee-line across a lower hayfield. Kodi was near me. He did not see the coyote but smelled or sensed its presence. He then made his own bee-line run back to the house. It is one of the few situations where I see Kodi run straight -- when he senses a coyote. He fears them for some reason. I think it is irrational, but perhaps something happened in his first year of life to elicit such jitters.

Kodi and I made it through basic training last spring, when Kodi was just over a year old and not long after we adopted him from the SPCA. He was a little restless in class. Sitting for long periods and heeling were not his strong suits. These days, as we run or trot down Bald Hill Road, Kodi zigs and zags from one side of the road to the other. He is on the lookout for important smells or signs along the way, especially those of other dogs. He likes to mark and is still indifferent to heeling.

I indulge Kodi when we run. Our route is along a fairly quiet and very scenic road. When a car does approach I bring Kodi alongside and we face toward the oncoming traffic. He doesn't quite get this road protocol, but at least it keeps us both safe. After the car passes we resume our wanderings. After the 30 minute run/trot/walk we both feel good and are ready for a snack.

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