Thursday, August 13, 2015

The Shepherd Guy

There's one guy I see fairly often on the trails. One day we encountered each other three different times in three different locations, and I had three different sets of dogs with me. Sometimes I wonder what people think when they see me out there walking multiple dogs, especially different dogs on the same day. The following is fiction, an attempt at self-reflection written from his point of view.

Maya and Theo, cooling and drinking.
Thoreau wrote that he went into the woods to live deliberately. I just go for some peace and quiet, to read or write, but mostly to run. Trail running is a lot nicer than running on the streets or roadways. The scenery is better, the hills make for better exercise, and there's no worry about being hit by a car. I am out there most days and more often than not I see the shepherd guy. He's middle aged, probably about the same age as my dad. He's a little overweight and I guess that's why he's out here so often. He's got a hiker's legs but a beer drinker's gut. I never see him without at least two dogs in tow and usually it's three. "In tow" isn't quite right. It's usually the dogs who have him in tow and he's huffing and puffing trying to keep up with them. He's always got a death grip on the leashes, but it's debatable as to who is walking whom.

I usually encounter him while running, and he pulls the dogs well off the trail into the woods, which I appreciate. Most of them seem friendly enough, but meeting two or three German Shepherds or rottweilers head-on can be a bit intimidating. They are a formidable looking group, to say the least, but the dogs seem intent on the trail and usually don't pay much attention to me.

I love this walking formation:
Maya out front, flanked by Theo and
Max about a step behind. It's really
good where the trail is narrow.

Most of the dogs I see him walking are shepherds, which is why I call him the shepherd guy, but I'm never sure if they are the same or different dogs. The one dog who is always with him, though, is a smaller, blond, mixed-breed dog with erect ears like a shepherd. Sometimes he has a rottweiler and a shepherd. They are all beautiful dogs.
Maya and Max

Where the trail is wide, they spread out a bit, but not always.
One day I was out just enjoying the day. I needed a break from running but it was too nice a day to stay indoors. I would walk until I found a nice place to sit and then I'd sit and read for a while until I wanted a change of scenery. That was the day I encountered the shepherd guy at least three times and it was the first time that we talked. I learned that the dogs were all rescues, either adopted by him or were being fostered by him and available for adoption. The second time we passed each other he had what I assumed were the same dogs with him, but he explained that he had driven home and switched two of the shepherds for two more; only the smaller blond dog was the same one I had seen him with earlier.

On our third meeting that day he asked me if I was interested in adopting a dog, he said it was a shame to be out running without one. I explained that my current circumstances didn't allow for it, but I'd love to someday.
Max, Trooper, and Maya
Trooper can handle three miles pretty well.

Barkley, Max, and Maya

Barkley and Max, having a drink when we got back
to the van. 
Maya and Theo

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