Dobson led me back into the wooded area of Hampton Hills Metro Park after a muddy romp through the field at the Top O' the World. My feet were rumbling forward in tight circles in an attempt to control my fall down the hill we'd just climbed a few minutes before. Dobson snaked through the trees and I followed the path he laid before me.
We took a hairpin left, followed by a dogleg right. I scattered to the left side of the leaf-covered trail to avoid a muddy patch, while Dobson stayed right. I focused on a bundle of roots and reassured the dog, "Good boy."
I glanced at a tree that was partially in the pathway on my right side as I passed. Then I noticed Dobson also on my right side, as he went on the other side of the tree.
My eyes darted to the orange handle of the leash in my hand and my mind quickly calculated the implications of the scenario about to play out. My feet dug into the terra infirma for a hard stop (call me Mr. Flintstone) and I backpedaled, nearly falling over, but Dobson found the end of the leash as we both yelped in unison.
Last night was the first time I've run with Dobson on trails. It was more mentally exhausting than it was physically, as I had to focus on where the dog was going, how he was doing, if he needed to stop, keeping him on the trail, all while keeping myself upright. On many occasions he nearly dragged me into a faceplant on the downhills.
I took Dobson on the 3.2-mile loop at Hampton Hills, which was one of the longer runs he's had, but we managed to run at a faster pace than most of our two-mile runs around our neighborhood. He seems to like the trails.
Afterward, I let him roll around on the melting mound of snow in the parking lot to cool down. Later, he enjoyed his favorite method of hydration: ice cubes. Unfortunately, the ice got stuck in his fur and he couldn't get it off. I was mean and took a picture before I helped him.