I am not a dog person. Lately, however, I have been appreciating the dog people of my life in a whole new way. In the past couple of weeks, I have enjoyed long walks and even better conversations with great friends as they take their four-legged family members out for adventure.  On more than a few occasions, the Fionas, GiGis and Higginses have begged for fresh air and a good meant-for-exercise run. I have been reminded that like children, when it comes to dogs, there is no “later” option.  I have also been reminded that unlike children, there is no choice to stay inside, regardless of the weather, when a potty emergency arises.

During a recent trip to the Berkshires, I stayed with two different dear friends. It was so great to sit and sip tea, sharing both memories of our past experiences as well as our current storylines. We moved from room to room, becoming more and more comfortable in the coziness of great couches as we reconnected. In the mornings, it was great to wake, enjoy healthy breakfasts and continue our conversations. The dogs interrupted, though, and needed to get out, leaving us no option but to pile on the fleece and comfie clothes. In both cases, we walked a bit before unleashing the dogs; they immediately bolted and played with an exuberant and almost frenzied sense of freedom. Although we didn’t sniff trees or chase squirrels with them, we did find a brisk pace that filled all of us, each day, with life. The autumn colors were vibrant and so were we. Women running with dogs.

Since those great escapes into the woods, around empty schoolyards and through quiet, small town neighborhoods, I have had occasion to accompany other dog owner friends and family members on their daily journeys around the block. For me, it has been a great, untapped source of exercise. My boys want a dog and may one day get a non-allergenic one. For now, our fish Rosie will do. I will, however, visit dog-loving-friends more often and focus not as much on the leaping , lapping adn subsequent sneezing and watery eyes as on the potential for a great trek, rain or shine.

I’ll have to remember this next weekend as we head to ME for a pre-Thanksgiving family gathering at my younger brother’s new home. Perhaps I will count on Emma, the resident Jack Russell, to keep my calories eaten/calories burned equation in check.

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