I decided to hit some trails near my work for a lunch time ride yesterday since the weather's been so fantabulous lately (60-70's, sunny). While bending over to put on my shoes I suddenly found myself face to face with an enormous brown head, foaming at the mouth. Oh no, I'm being attacked by Cujo!-not. It was an enormous, blubbery chocolate lab, more like a huge chocolate muffin with legs and a frantically wagging tail who was simultaneously trying to slime me with his slobbery, frothing mouth and jump into my car. At first I was just annoyed and ignored him. It's an off leash trail and people often let their dogs run loose in the parking lot while they get ready which drives me crazy. However I soon realize noone else is in the parking lot and there's a certain franticness to the way the dog is seeking my attention. I manage to get my bike out without him getting in my car (he's so fat that he can't quite get by me but that's the only thing stopping him) and start on my ride with muffindog in tow. He's following my wheel like he's been my dog for life. Horses right up next to one side of the trail, a prarie dog town on the other with plenty of chirping residents teasing him and all he wants to do is stay with me. I'm flabbergasted, neither of my dogs despite all their training would do this, esp. Lola who would be off like a shot, barking her head off at the horses and chasing the prairie dogs. I'm worried though because he's so overweight and he'd obviously been running before he found me, I don't want the poor guy to overheat or have a coronary. While trying to remember my canine CPR class that I took from the Red Cross, I pick up the pace to try to lose him-and I can't! I'm so out of condition that I can't outpedal an overweight dog. Finally I hit a downhill stretch and blubber boy just can't keep up. Phew! Then the guilt sets in. I feel terrible but what can I do? I have my bike in the car, where could I put the dog? But more selfishly, I don't want to sacrifice my ride. I missed riding yesterday due to work obligations and I've been itching to get out on my bike all week. How many more nice days will I have? Surely someone else on this busy trail will pick him up.
I make try some steep hills for the first time since my accident and I manage them no problem. Part of me is really happy and part of me feels like a heel. Poor dog, he needs water at the very least. What will happen to him? I see a beautiful great blue heron take flight right near me, his wingspan is unbelievable and he's such a bright shade of blue in the sunlight, he looks unreal. But it's only a minor distraction from my guilt. Finally I decide I've had enough and turn around.
And waiting for me right where I lost him on the way out is muffindog. He looks lost and confused but when he sees me he wags his whole body for joy and he's right back on my wheel again. Obviously he can smell a sucker a mile away. I slow down a bit so he doesn't have to run so fast but I'm kind of in a hurry to get back to work. He manages to make it back to the parking lot without any major medical incidents and I dig around the car for a stray water bottle. I didn't have any fresh water with me since my ride was so short and my mtn. bike doesn't have bottle holders but I found an old bottle (weeks, months, who knows?) about 1/3 full of water and I give it to him in a spare dog dish. He's so thirsty he practically inhales it. That's it, I can't leave him out here, so I manage to find some bungees to secure my bike and make room for muffinman.
I take him to the shelter just in case he really is legitimately lost and not dumped though in my heart of hearts I know he's been dumped. The shelter staff ask me if I want to be notified if noone claims him, I can have first dibs at adopting him. I blurt out a hurried no because I think Jonny will have an immediate aneurism if we take in such a huge dog on top of the big, strong, high maintenance, high strung dogs we already have. However when I tell him the story he immediately tells me I should have told them yes. So now I'm faced with the prospect of a third dog who's got a wonderful temperament and would be a great companion but also a huge burden on top of the dogs we already have. Picking up poop from this dog alone would be bad enough let alone 2 more. I can barely manage 2 at once on a walk and this dog needs months of conditioning and weight loss before he can go running with us. Nonetheless the first thought I had when I woke up this morning was possible ways to fit 3 crates in the car and I'm on the verge of calling the shelter to tell them I'll take first dibs on him. He's such a great guy, I'm sure someone will snatch him up but I really liked having a no maintenance dog that immediately bonded with me and wanted nothing more than to follow me down the trail on a beautiful sunny afternoon, even if it was only for a few minutes.