Now that the days are getting shorter and sundown is falling closer and closer to 5pm, I'm getting a little discouraged about doing my evening run with my basenjis. If you're like me, you may be experiencing the same thing: When the clock strikes 5pm I bolt away from my desk at work as fast as I can (praying all day that my boss doesn't suddenly need me for a 4:55pm meeting), and I rush home to change clothes and harness up the dogs. If we're lucky and I don't get distracted by cleaning up something the dogs have eaten, leafing through the mail, or trying to throw in "just one load" of laundry before we go, we MAY make it out the door by 6pm. If we do, we're generally able to get in a good half-hour run before it gets dark. But if something goes awry (as it does more often than not), we're now stuck running in the dark. Ugh.
So now I'm faced with a choice: Do I still haul my butt out the door into the dark and (increasingly) the cold, even though I happen to REALLY hate both of these things? If I do, I know I'll be in a good mood when I come home, I'll feel better physically and mentally, I'll be able to eat more snacks later on and not feel guilty about it, and best of all the dogs will be tired (and we all know that TIRED = BEHAVED). If I don't go for my run, I am faced with an evening of two wild basenjis tearing around the living room, sneaking upstairs to find things to eat, and methodically emptying out their toybox toy by toy so they can wrestle (loudly) over each one. No, thank you -- did I really even have a choice in the matter?
So far I've been lucky to find a few different routes through my neighborhood and the adjoining ones that are on "good" streets and are well-lit enough to be able to run at night. That, coupled with the fact that I run with my cell phone strapped to my arm and two very athletic-looking dogs with big teeth, make me feel pretty safe that I'm not going to get mugged while running in the dark. However, what I do worry about is cars.
Even though my neighborhood has nice, fairly even sidewalks to run on, cars still tear around and barrel through intersections like there's no tomorrow. At night, if they can't see you until you're in their headlights, it's fairly obvious that they may not have time to stop to avoid hitting you. But what about your dogs? Since your dogs are lower to the ground and basenjis have a tendency to run in front of their owners instead of at their sides (no, really?), they stand an even greater risk of not being seen by drivers until it's too late.
To combat this problem, I found some really cool blinking reflective armbands for humans, which I was able to stretch out a little and put on my dogs as blinking reflective collars when we run at night. Check out our fashion statement:
The middle oval that is not made of reflective material is actually a blue-green light that strobes when you turn it on. I got these at my local Nike outlet, but I'll bet that just about any company that makes athletic gear would have a similar product that you could easily adapt to put on your dog. My husband thinks it's pretty funny when he sees three bouncing, flashing green lights running down the sidewalk at night, but at least we're safe!
Next I've got to find a nice warm winter dog jacket made out of reflective material, to combat those frigid mid-winter nights. If anyone has any good suggestions, let me know!
-Kristen Ayres (firstname.lastname@example.org)