Late afternoon, approaching the city of Elton, Louisiana, this good looking dog decided to follow me, like that one did in Florida last month. At first I didn’t mind it too much, just hoping that it would find something else to do and leave me alone. Well, it didn’t work that way.
This dog not just stuck around for miles, but was becoming an annoyance. I wouldn’t want to have a dog by the end of the day when I need to find a place to set up camp. That is a no-no! But worse than that, this dog was crossing the road back and forth all the time. Cars were swerving and having to slow down hard to not hit it. And most of the drivers were thinking that it was my dog! I was getting angry looks and a driver even came back to yell at me. Sensing that it was going to be bigger trouble than I want to handle I called 911.
The dispatcher on 911 told me that the city I was in does not have animal control services so there was absolutely nothing they could (or care to) do about it. I was on my own.
So I decided to run from it!
Nearing the end of my day I was on the road for more than 20 miles already and quite tired. At this point I just wanted to walk the rest of it, pass the city a mile or so, and camp. My walking speed is around 3 miles per hour, and the dog was still around me.
First I tried my “fast” pace, which for most runners sounds like a joke… a 5 mile per hour joke. But being about distance, and not time, 5 miles per hour is a pace I can keep for a good while and shift between surging and recovering for very good periods at this point. But not at the end of the day. After a while I was getting really exhausted and every time I looked back the dog was right there with me! I was going to blow a gasket that way.
Then I thought for a while about what I learned reading Born to Run, about the fact that the dog has to breathe once per step, how it cools off, and how humans can speed up towards the upper part of their jogging range, while a four legged animal would have to be at the bottom end of its aerobic range to keep the same pace. So instead of trying to outrun the dog at 5miles per hour in just a few minutes I changed strategy: Run at 4 miles per hour for an entire hour or more.
For the first half an hour or so the dog kept running happily right by my side at 4 miles per hour, but very gradually it tired and had to stop to cool off, while I could just keep going. It tried to catch up a couple of times but in about one hour he just sit down and stayed there.
That was a good reminder that you outrun a dog just the same way that you run from one ocean to another: You run with your head, not with your legs.