Suburban Mushing

Dawn at Six Mile Run

I long for the day I can run the dogs from my doorstep, directly into the woods, and not see a single soul the entire time. Although I don't mind running into people who are genuinely curious about what I'm doing, there are plenty of people I don't want to deal with. 

Since I work in Manhattan, it's very unlikely I'll obtain my woodsy dream life any time soon. I have to settle for the suburbs, where I'm within a commutable distance to trails and New York. I'm especially tied to my current spot because I'm lucky enough to have a tiny bit of woods and enough parks to get by (plus I live in a mother-daughter house with my family, and I kind of like them). It's also a somewhat quiet spot, if I schedule my runs for specific times. If I want to avoid kids at the bus stop or neighbors walking their dogs, I have to run either before dawn or right before 9 AM, when people have already left for work. The latter only works on days I'm working from home, though.

Weekends are rough. I try to balance some semblance of a social life with waking up before dawn. My favorite spot to run is about 30 minutes away at Six Mile Run, but it's a popular area for people walking their dogs (often without a leash) and mountain bikers. I managed to get out there on Saturday, and it was beautiful and quiet (aside from the occasional shotgun fire in the distance - I always have my bright orange bandanas on hand). 

Although I was really eager to get out again on Sunday morning, I decided to get a little more sleep and take the dogs for a local run instead. Denali has a sore spot on the side of one toe and Dexter has some irritation between his back toes (from kicking after marking - not mushing related), so I didn't want to over do it. The woods loop near my house is finally free of flooding, so I knew I could add that into our routine again.

The tricky thing was taking the dogs out at around 9 AM on a weekend - prime time to run into all sorts of human activity. We managed to avoid three separate dog-walkers, and the team is learning to ignore the yappy Labrador in the yard around the corner. I was surprised to see a pit bull in the lost dog pen outside the police station. The dogs were surprised, too, and almost took a detour to greet her. Luckily, Denali seems to be maturing enough to lead Knox away from distractions. Knox is, uh, getting there.

Once we got to the park, I could hear kids shouting on the jungle gym. I never really know what to expect from kids, but I'm really happy with the way these ones behaved. As I turned onto the baseball field to head back home, I saw someone walking a dog in the distance and knew I had to take a break to avoid running them over. The naturally curious gang of little girls came over and politely asked about the dogs. Since we needed to stop anyway, I decided the kids would be a good distraction while the dog walker went on her way. The girls worked up the courage to pet the whole team. Dexter was the least intimidating, especially while performing tricks for treats I had on hand. Kids are often intimidated by the huskies, since they look like wolves, but Denali and Knox were super sweet and laid back as they were poked and pet.

In lieu of having quiet, solitary runs, I can use this time to teach my neighbors about huskies and mushing. I'm glad my dogs (for the most part) make great ambassadors for sled dogs everywhere, especially when organizations like PETA try to frame mushing as abuse. I think my happy, healthy dogs prove otherwise!

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