There are several parks within easy walking distance of our house that have off-leash dog areas. This being Portland, that means the entire parks are off-leash. This is very lucky for us, because the official off-leash area is a big empty space where you’re supposed to throw a ball for your dog to chase and bring back. This is of absolutely no interest to A.J. He prefers to be out among the trees sniffing around and chasing squirrels. So he runs through the entire park doing just that.

When I go there and let him off leash, he runs off and does his sniffing and chasing. I then look longingly at the groups of people standing around talking while their dogs mill around them, occasionally chasing the tennis balls that are thrown for them. I think “Wouldn’t it be nice to just be able to throw the ball for him, have him bring it back, and stick near me?” But I have a crazy dog who just runs around on his own.

But then I was reminded: Sometimes you just have to look at things the right way to appreciate what you have.

Twice within one day I had people walk up to me and say “How nice to have a self-exercising dog!” And they’re right! I can just stand in place, and A.J. will run himself ragged. I don’t have to throw anything. I don’t have to walk around with him to get him to move. I just have to watch him and he takes care of the rest.

What a great dog!