Running. With Wolf Pack.

dog, running, vizsla,rescue,winter, exercise

Here’s my Wolf Pack. Our Zeke on the left.  Anya, the neighbor’s dog on the right.  Zeke, a pure bred Hungarian bird hunting Vizsla.  Anya, a rescue mix with herding in her DNA.

Zeke was acquired five years ago for hundreds (many) of dollars. (The King’s list of demands in dog selection included a sporting/running breed.  It didn’t include acquiring someone else’s problems.)  Anya was acquired from a shelter with no cash outlay.  (*Hold this thought on dog profile differences.)

Trail running (and all running outside) has largely been suspended this winter season. Weekend exercise has taken the form of intermittent stabs on the elliptical machine in the attic…remote control in the right cup holder and water bottle in the left.  Air temperature constant at 67F.  No snow. No slush.  No uneven surfaces.  (And No Running Posts.  Zero inspiration running on an elliptical.)

Weather warming this weekend.  It was time to GET OUTSIDE.  So, I prep.  Ugg’s on.  Strap Garmin on wrist. Grab iPhone. Earphones. Doggie treats. Two Dog leashes.  Dog tags.  Poop bags. Car keys. And stuff it all into a fanny pack. (Black manly style fanny pack.)  Put on down coat.  Pull on hat. (38F.  Hat not needed but run will be arduous.  No need to display thinning/receding and matted hair.)  Jam running gloves in pocket.  Grab Driver’s license and wallet and head out the door.  (With the exception of dry food, ropes, crampons and ice axes, I’d be ready for climb up McKinley.  Heavy load for a trail run in snow.  Pulse quickens and I haven’t even left the car.)

We arrive at Mianus Park, 100 acres of woods and trails.  I leash up the wolf pack to get to park entrance.  There are two paths, I take the one less travelled, not for Frost’s rationale, but because I want to avoid the stalking game warden who hits up dog owners @ $98 per creature caught off leash.

I release the dogs off leash.  I trudge up a steep incline.  Anya, the Rescue Rabbit, always out front.  Performing recon. Darts ahead.  Circles.  Loops back.  Never tiring.  Happy, confident creature.

Footing is treacherous. I’m picking up and laying down the Uggs with deliberation.  The snow pack has turned to slush and ice.  I slow the pace.  The outer soles slide left and right on the rocks, roots, and hill, all tugging at groins. Yet, it is all seemingly holding together.  (Still got it.)

We’re up over the hill and heading down.  Pleased at having traversed the climb, I turn on my iPhone/iTunes.  And rather than hitting a playlist, I live on the edge.  I peck at “A” and let the tunes ride down in alphabetical order.  (With 3,783 songs, I certainly won’t run out of alphabet.)

I sneak a peak at the pace.  Sloooow but expected given conditions and track.  7/10’s of a mile in.  I look behind me.  No Zeke. Heart races as it has been 1/4 mile since I last saw him. I turn and scramble back up the hill.  I’m gasping – – from both worry and the incline. I see Zeke up at the next peak.  I bellow out “ZEKE COME” three times.  He doesn’t move. The King is furious.  (D*mn dog spends too much time with Susan. Trained as another Mama’s Boy.  He’s conditioned to resist and do the opposite when the King makes his demands.)

My worry has flipped to anger. I turn off the music. (Phil Collins: Against All Odds)

I hoof it back up the hill.  Grumbling.  I can see that he’s slouched down.  Has his “I’m scared look.”  (Vizsla’s are highly sensitive. He knows I’m angry.  So, I try to figure out what’s causing the fright.  And take a deep breath.)

Then the culprit emerges.  A woodpecker is banging on the trunk of a towering cottonwood overhead.  Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang!  The Pure Bred’s ears are down. His tail is tucked under.  His hair standing up on end.  Frozen in his tracks. (Oh, the cruel irony. Hungarian Pure Bred Bird Hunting Dog.  Paralyzed by a woodpecker.  Susan tells me that Vizsla’s become fearful as they age.  REALLY?  WHERE WAS THIS DISCLOSURE IN THE BUYER’S MANUAL?)

I pull the leash out of my pocket.  Zeke growls.  I tell him not to mess with me.  I clip it on his collar.  And, proceed to drag him down the trail.  The Rescue Rabbit (free), happily prancing ahead.

The King and his Wolf Pack resume their run.

The Down Jacket is contributing to overheating.  Between the stress of losing Zeke, the poor footing and the climbs, sweat is gushing from under the hat – – washing down my back and chest.  I’m a mere 1.3 miles in (plus the double back) and wonder if this journey was meant to be.  And between gulps of air…and my run-walk-run pace…I tune into the lyrics of the “A” alpha list…

  • Against The Wind: Bob Seger…(No kidding.)
  • (This) Ain’t No Love Guiding Me: David Gray…(Not on this run.  Nothing about LOVE on this grind.)
  • Ain’t No Other Man: Christina Aguilera…(Thanks for believing in me Christina)
  • Ain’t Nothing Like The Real Thing: Michael McDonald…(No, two months on Elliptical is not a surrogate for the real thing)
  • Ain’t Too Proud to Beg: The Temptations…(Correct.  I’m close to begging here…)
  • Ain’t No Mountain High Enough: The Temptations…(This mountain feels pretty damn high to me.)
  • Ain’t No Sunshine: Al Jarreau…(I don’t think I’m getting enough oxygen.  Forget Sun. It’s all looking misty and foggy.)
  • The Air That I Breathe: Simply Red:…(I’m gulping all that I can.)
  • Alive Again: Chicago…(Yes, but just hanging on here Lord, just hanging on.)

I pop open the hatch of the car.  Anya hops into the car and peacefully settles in.  Zeke – – tail curled between his legs, growls.  He won’t get in.  The King picks up his sporting pure bred dog, hoping no one is watching this spectacle, and places him gently on the passenger seat.  I walk around to unlock the door and slump onto the car seat.  Take off my hat.  Wipe the sweat off my brow and head.  Close my eyes.  Take several deep breaths.  Fire up the engine.  And head home.

Time Check: 61 minutes. 5.1 miles.

Nap time.

Related Posts: The Running Series


  1. Alex Jones says:

    Dogs provide that unpredictable element that makes life interesting.


  2. Hilarious!! I can so relate to this story. Our pup is scared of anything he hasn’t seen before from the very dangerous orange cones to treachorous snowmen…:-) Good for you for getting out there.


  3. I want to be a king when I grow up…just like you.


  4. wow!!! sounds like quite an experience!!!!!!
    one more “A”: “All’s well that ends well”!!!


  5. Lol!!!!!! I almost fell out of my chair from laughing so hard! You…and your writing. I loved it, all of it.


  6. Beautiful writing and dogs.

    Maybe Zeke was confused. Was he attracted by the woodpecker, did he go after it, did he think he had it cornered? But his King doesn’t hunt. Now what to do. Can’t climb the tree to get the bird. King will, as usual do nothing. Its enough to make anyone nervous.

    My dog was a Britney — they point, flush and retrieve. Lad would do all three. I was in the woods with him one time and he ran off to the left down a not quite trail. I got angry like you and started after him when a flock of maybe a dozen wild turkeys came flying through the trees, branches flying everywhere with happy lad behind chasing them. That settled the discussion re: do wild turkeys fly. My car service driver — a hunter since he was 5 — told me they certainly do just a few days before Lad proved his point.

    Lad would point at a single feather with no training. Beer cans and newspapers would be retrieved on almost every walk. (The newspapers that belonged to others had to be put back) He did bring the paper in every morning for years — again — he trained himself.

    I miss Lad.


    • Frank, there was no doubt. He wasn’t confused. He was paralyzed in place. And he wasn’t pointing (like a trained pointer would do). And yes, the King doesn’t hunt so we were both lost.

      Loved your story on Lad…I can see him flushing out the turkeys and so proud doing so. (And the cans and newspapers) Wonderful story Frank. I can see why you would miss him.


  7. What a great story and sorry that Zeke loves (or at least listens to) the queen more than the King!


  8. Ah Zeke…showing his sensitive side at a less than ideal moment for the King. Thank goodness you are a benevolent king, appreciative of the sensibilities of all of your minions. And yet, looking at his gorgeousness, I would melt at his first hello – how could you not? As for your playlist – no surprise that we share a lot in the list beginning with the letter “A”.


  9. David, I have been there myself in the past. I had a half German Shepard, quarter husky and quarter wolf, who’s favorite pastime was to get out of the yard and play keep away. Only when I was so tired I gave up would he deign come to me, and was smart enough to know when I was faking it, just to catch him.


  10. Hilarious!


  11. Without the wolf pack it would have been just another day on Mt. McKinley.


  12. petit4chocolatier says:

    Life is wonderful with a dog!! Love it 🙂


  13. Love the way you tell this.


  14. Loved the story, David! I have an English Cocker Spaniel, purebred, and equally finicky at times…


  15. A captivating, riotous narrative as always, David. I could see the whole thing playing out like a film reel. It’s always fun to see dogs acting “true to type” as well as completely contrary to it. Lola, for instance, takes her background as a lap warmer deadly seriously, and Beau, well, if it’s something he’s not supposed to have/ingest, you can be darn sure he’s going to retrieve it… 😉


  16. [Laughing] Terrific and hilarious. At first I wondered if am allowed to say this but thanks to all the comments they were shouting out loud – GO FOR IT! 😉 :p


  17. I so enjoy hearing your life stories!


  18. That was funny. As they say…dogs are man’s best friend!


  19. I sent this to my brother (he has a Vizsla) and he commented, “Awesome! Thanks for sending! Damn Vizslas! Worth every penny though!”


  20. Impressive..truly impressive (and funny!) 🙂


  21. Dear King;

    I had a great time on the run with you and my occasionally fearful but oh so handsome boyfriend Zeke, as usual! Can we do it again tomorrow? And then the next day? And then maybe the day after that?



  22. I’m laughing so HARD I’m crying! The King and his wolf pack. Splendid.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. I was thinking about getting me a puppy dog.
    Then I went and saw “Secret Life of Pets”.
    Oh my god.
    I thought it would be cute and funny and relaxing.
    But no.
    It was like Die Hard, only with animals. Car crashes, near death experiences, snakes, villains and weird henchmen everywhere, and a homicidal bunny. I left there wound up like an alarm clock.
    May as well have been watching The Matrix.
    I WAS thinking about getting me a dog. Now, not!
    Except, after reading your stories David, maybe I should reconsider. I HATE walking. I hate working out. Shoot, I dont even like breathing hard.
    But if I had a wolfpack? Who knows David, who knows?

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Reading this again made me smile this morning. Merry Christmas, King David.

    Liked by 1 person

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