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Juneau, Alaska: #1 venue for runners who like dogs but don’t particularly care to be chased by them.


You all know the drill: you’re running down the road minding your own business. Maybe you’re in the middle of a tough tempo workout. Maybe you just passed the red mailbox in 54:32 and you’re en route to a course PR if you can make it to the intersection of Society and Riverview in the next four minutes.

Just as you’re revving up the pace, you hear it.

Ah, the dulcet strains of a barking canine.

Now you’ve done it. If you’re lucky, he’ll just stay in his yard and woof. No big deal, just a momentary spike in your blood pressure.

If you’re unlucky, you’ve tripped his instinctual chase mechanism and before you know it, some rabid, gnashing snarl-factory has made it his business to inject a bit of unexpected excitement into your run. Why no, dog, I hadn’t planned on any 200m sprints today, but somehow the prospect of being chomped squarely in the butt makes me more amenable to the idea of including some speedwork.

Bane of the long-distance runner.


It’s sort of a fact of running life, isn’t it? Some people still labor under the delusion that the mailman is a dog’s mortal nemesis, but runners know the truth. We are the true objects of a dog’s chase-happy fancy.

Nearly every case of being chased by a dog seems to involve stopping your run. There’s basically no way to outrun any reasonably fit dog, so the only option seems to be stopping the watch and hoping for an owner to materialize.

Don’t you dread that awkward moment where the dog is trying to chase you, and you’re still hoping you can get away with continuing to run without stopping? Meanwhile, the owner is waltzing along far behind, yelling uselessly in an increasingly panicky voice: “C’mon Molly! Here, girl! Come back! NO! Molly! Here, come get a treat! NO, MOLLY. HERE! COME BACK!”

Finally, you must stop. Nice try, but the dog won’t quit running until you do.

I love dogs. I just don’t love having to stop running every time one decides to join in on the fun.

Which brings me to my point: Juneau seems to have the most well-behaved dogs in the universe.

Runners do not need to worry about dogs here.

The weirdest part of this phenomenon is that so many dogs are off-leash on the trails; free to roam and run around and hike with their owners. When I run by them, it’s as if they don’t even dream of chasing me.

Clearly, Juneau is a great place to be a dog under competent voice control.

My first few runs out on the trails here, I would cringe inwardly every time I’d pass a person with an off-leash dog. I would brace myself. Here it comes: get ready to stop your watch and laugh and pretend you don’t mind these incessant interruptions to your world-record marathon delusions. And then… it didn’t happen. It NEVER happens. And I’ve lost track of how many hearty, outdoorsy dogs I’ve encountered on the trails here. They are so well-behaved it’s eerie.

Happy off-leash Juneau dogs. Incidentally, they are not chasing runners.

So even though I’ve been stuffing newspaper into my trainers every morning because it never stops raining, even though I’ve been clapping and yelling like a crazy person while trail running in order to alert bears, and even though it’ll be icy, cold, and dark soon, at least I’ll never have to stop my watch for a dog here.

What’s your best dog-chase story while out on a run? Mine might be the time I was stung between the fingers by a mud wasp while trying  to jump on a mailbox in order to escape two vicious charging bulldogs. Give me your best.

13 Comments leave one →
  1. 09/05/2010 12:35

    I once was chased by a dog for like 4 miles. That was the fastest I have ever ran in my life. Luckily I had more endurance!

  2. 09/05/2010 13:42

    i’ve never been intimidated by a dog on a run (thankfully) but they do chase and then i have to stop and yell at it to go away. the owner never seems to be around, or if they are, they don’t seem to care that their dog is running down the road after someone. love that…

    i love off-leash dogs. i feel like they get to enjoy being a dog thanks to some solid obedience training.

    and negative ghost rider. no triathlons in my future. i’m too afraid of OWS’s haha. slimy lake bottoms, ugh.

    • 09/07/2010 10:20

      Bahahah, me too. I’m really freaked out by… seaweed. True story. 😦

  3. 09/05/2010 16:35

    I have never been chased by a dog…(knock on wood!)I would definitely freak out! eeekk! I do want a dog that can run far and be my running buddy!
    I hope you’re having a great weekend!

  4. 09/05/2010 18:03

    “Competent voice control”, that’s the funniest thing I’ve seen in a while. Love that photo of the happy trotting dogs. I’ve got no bad doggie stories, love the things and they always make me laugh while out on runs. But I’m in a busy city park so I don’t think owners are allowed competent or incompetent voice control, they’re all on leashes for the most part. Competent leashes.

    • 09/07/2010 10:22

      Good thing those leashes are competent. In fact, in my experience, sometimes you don’t even get competent leashes. It’s like the leash induces a whole new element of crazy… allowing the dog to go nuts, run around and tangle up in your legs. Little dogs seem to be consistent offenders in that arena…

  5. Lacey permalink
    09/06/2010 06:50

    yay for dogs that don’t chase runners. i’ve only encountered 1 or 2 dogs in my lifetime of running that have given chase. so annoying!!!! b/c i love dogs but i hate that feeling. sounds like some good running!!!!!!! hopefully your legs are feeling good! so interesting you are in juneau… i wonder if i will ever go there???? i heard it is beautiful. do you think it is a good vacation/ trip spot? .. and did you get a jump rope???? 🙂

    • 09/07/2010 10:24

      Definitely a great place to be in the summer! Winter/fall will get dark and rainy/snowy, but if you ever get an opportunity, this is a mighty cool place with lots of good running locales. No jump rope yet… although I might be able to rustle one up from the place I’m staying. I definitely would like to work in some more plyometric/explosive stuff into my training.

  6. Murdoch permalink
    09/07/2010 04:25

    Not quite running, but Laura and I were out on our bikes in Mystic at the start of the summer. About a mile from her house we turn down this road and a small chihuahua comes sprinting at me. I slowed down figuring itd end up in my spokes otherwise. I stop, It runs up to me and starts nibbling on my riding shoes before taking a bite into my ankle. Owner did the normal “im sorry, theyve never done that before, etc..” I still have the scar where it took 2 good bites and my riding shoes still have teeth marks.

    • 09/07/2010 10:32

      Teeth marks in the shoes and a lasting scar?! While on a BIKE? What IS it about tiny dogs that causes them to be so feisty and vicious? Total Napoleon complex. Moral of the story: keep peddling hard next time. If that nasty chihuahua thinks toturing innocent endurance athletes is worth being filleted by bike-spokes, that’s his problem.

  7. 09/07/2010 05:15

    Weird. Maybe the dogs are only conditioned to chase grizzly bears? I have never been chased, but oh boy, have I had standoffs on desolate streets with territorial jerk-dogs. I’m a dog lover, but if you are (a dog) and unleashed and growling at me, you are my enemy. Gives me the willies even now.

    • 09/07/2010 10:36

      Oooof. Very true. A standoff is worse than a chase. I never know quite what to do in those cases. Usually “chasers” are just trying to play. But growly standoff dogs are reenacting a scene right out of the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, waiting for you to make a mistake so that they can attack.

  8. 09/07/2010 11:03

    I posted a horrible dog story awhile back, so instead I will tell you one my father once told me:

    He heard a dog running out towards the road and saw it was a tiny Paris Hilton type little dog so he decided to outrun it figuring it couldn’t keep up. It couldn’t, but he did have to go a good half mile or so before it stopped trying.

    Ok, maybe its not as funny as I thought. But the visual of anyone out running a tiny purse dog seems hilarious. To me.

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