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.
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.
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.
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.