Mud Dogs

Running trails with dogs invariably involves mud - at least if you live and run in the Pacific Northwest, as the girls and I do.

I often complain about the mud at our home in the mountains of Idaho. It's different than the mud of western Washington (my former home) - the clay in the soil here makes the mud very sticky and slick underfoot. It's quite hard to clean off of dog feet with a towel. The mud the girls track into the house falls off their feet and bellies in clumps, then dries and turns to dust. They leave lots of muddy foot prints in the house, but that's why I chose to have concrete floors. (Dyed, stamped and cut concrete floors - most people mistake it for flagstone tiles - with in-floor radiant heat. I'm not stupid, just practical.) I've learned. No carpeting for me!

While visiting Seattle last week, I was reminded of the quality (and quantity) of western Washington mud. Yet I prefer it to Idaho mud. One morning the girls and I met my friend Michael for a run on Cougar Mountain. It had rained overnight, and a gentle mist continued to fall throughout most of our two hour jaunt. I was in heaven, running again along my beloved trails through vibrantly green forests choked with thick, lush undergrowth. The girls were also enjoying it, as their dark and muddy bellies attested.

One of the photos shows Michael leading the girls up a trail at Cougar a couple of years ago; we ran this trail again this past week. The other - of Meadow napping - was taken after one such run on a typically wet Washington day. It's impossible to dry the mud off the girls with a towel. I make half-hearted attempts to get the worst of it off of them before I let them in the house (or in the case of last week, Robin's house), but usually I simply let it dry and fall off. No baths, you ask? If you did ask that question, you've never lived with a Malamute. They don't do baths. Unless they've been sprayed by a skunk, and even then they'd be perfectly happy to continue stinking; it's me who deems the ordeal of a bath the lesser evil to the smell. Thankfully, Malamute coats are so thick that dirt and mud don't penetrate to their skin, so they rarely truly need a bath and never smell bad. A good brushing, on a regular basis, keeps them clean and spiffy.

[A couple of years ago, I wrote an article on trail running with dogs for Bark Magazine. It's long. It's a topic about which I'm passionate. You can find the article at: trail running with dogs or do a search within their web site Bark Magazine for "trail running with dogs." If you aren't already familiar with Bark Magazine, check it out. It's awesome, the people who created and produce it are awesome, and I'm honored to occasionally have an article published by them.]