City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

November 14, 2016

November 14th

Filed under: People — canopus56 @ 4:47 pm

Running with Sophie

4:00 p.m. On Sunday, November 13th, a friend has forced his dog on me to take for walk, and we proceed off on what for her, an eighteen-month old border-collie named Sophie, will be a four mile trot. Her owner has walked with her for ten or more miles, so this should not be a problem. The canyon on a warm Fall Sunday is full of people. I stop counting at fifty. About fifteen are pairs of fathers and sons, fathers and daughters, and mothers and sons, that are either running or bicycling together.

Generally, I jog in the canyon alone, not because I am antisocial, but because interaction with others keeps from from seeing the details of nature. Sophie is no exception as a companion. She requires constant attention. Her owner dotes on her and gives her never ending love with mild discipline, and as a result she has a happy, confident disposition. A woman stops and asks to pet Sophie, and she remarks how she trots with head held high, chest thrust out, and a moving gaze that sees everything. She is a friend to all and wants to greet everything, dog style. All this is the result of her owner’s love given since he acquired Sophie as a young pup.

Running with her on Sunday is about modeling. I am showing her how to run: Keep a slow study pace; don’t get distracted by everything; listen to your master because he or she will only give commands to keep you safe. It is necessary to freely give her praise and encouragement so her spirit is not broken. For her part, Sophie has a superior sense of smell that is thousand of times more refined then my own. She must stop to smell certain things, and occasionally, she gives me a reproachful look. “How could any being with a nose not know to stop and smell this! What is the matter with you, Two-Feet” her expression says.

On Sunday, the human parent-child pairs in the canyon are no different. One mother is encouraging two five year olds to continue pedaling. “Yes, you can do this!” she exclaims. A father is teaching his nine-year old son to run. “Keep on breathing!” They both do comical exaggerated exhalations. An athletic mother in her thirties is running while holding hands with her eight year old son, and they discuss his emotional problems with friends. A father-daughter pair on bicycles are having a hushed discussion that reveals the closeness of that bond. All of this is modeling that shows children how to be people. It is a learned skill, and the difference between good and marginal parents in the canyon is apparent. Those that give some discipline and much modeling in an environment of praise and love raise children that thrive. Those that criticize or demean their children as they walk do not.

I jog two miles in and then two-miles out with Sophie. At the start of the jog, she was full of nervous energy. She is unused to bicycles. She curls up on the floor of the car and takes a nap as we drive to her owner’s home. I suspect later today, she will dream with her feet twitching in the manner that dogs do when they dream. Her dreams will be filled with trotting, new smells, and odd people on two-wheeled, not understood metal things.

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