Greetings! Please enjoy this post from our guest blogger, Jim Williams, the Manager of the Planet Dog Company Store here in Portland, ME.
I have been a runner for over 30 years. Originally, I am a “flatlander” from Ohio, and way back then I used to daydream about living along the Maine coast. In the vision I had, I would be out for my daily run along Maine’s rocky coast, running past lighthouses and lobster traps, watching the waves crash along the shore. And in that vision, I always pictured a Black Labrador Retriever running by my side.
Well, 20 years ago, I followed that dream. I quit my job in Ohio, moved to Maine and have been running on these beaches ever since. And yes, sure enough, I’ve had a Black Lab romping along beside me. First, it was "Mattie" for 11 years. And, for the last 7 years, it has been my buddy "Pirate".
Taking Pirate for a run is a great way for both of us to get our daily exercise. We do run on the beaches along the coast, but one of our favorite runs is in the woods. We are fortunate to live in a town that has wooded preservation land with an extensive trail system. Dogs are allowed and can be off leash. The land has a large pond and small streams and is quite beautiful year round. We often meet other people and other dogs enjoying the scenery, but sometimes we can run for an hour and not encounter a soul.
Pirate has his routine there. At a certain point he begins to look for a good stick in anticipation of what he knows is coming. As we get close to the end of the run we always stop at a little waterfall, which creates a shallow pool. There, Pirate’s true passion as a Retriever comes into play as I throw the stick in the water for him 12 times. Always exactly 12 times. If I throw it fewer times, he looks at me dumbfounded. I swear the dog can count. Then we finish our run – it always feels great to work up a good sweat.
I love running and I love my dog. To be able to combine those passions is simply the best. This past weekend Planet Dog helped sponsor the 3rd Annual Bayside Trail 5K Road Race in Portland, Maine. The run supports the Bayside Trail, which is a new city trail in Portland used by walkers and runners and bikers. This urban, multi-use trail passes the Planet Dog Company Store where I work.
The race is the only run in town where dogs can run with their owners. It was great fun --- this year there were about 150 runners and about 75 dogs. We had a crisp sunny fall morning, which was perfect running weather. Pirate and I were the course “sweepers” – we ran behind just to make sure all the runners got to the finish line OK. Our goal was to be the last runner, which isn’t as easy as it sounds. It was hard to hold Pirate back. I think he wanted to win.
While running with Pirate I sometimes think back to the daydreams I had 30 years ago and realize that I am living the dream I had way back then. I have to pinch myself from time to time. I live in a postcard called Maine. I don’t take it for granted, and I don't think Pirate does either.