top of page

How Getting My Dog (Who Goes ONE MILLION Miles an Hour) Has Made Me Slow Down

with Traci Wagner

I adopted Zelda for a few reasons, one of them being her endurance capabilities. Being someone who loves long days running or mountain biking, I thought it would be great to have a dog that pushes me to do more of it than I already do! But, to my surprise, what she has actually done for me I never would have anticipated. She has made me slow down. With her in my life I have learned that to reconnect I really needed to disconnect first.

Don’t get me wrong, Zelda definitely keeps me moving, but instead of mindlessly moving for long miles like before, she has me moving in ways where I’m more present. I went from having structured workout plans for endurance races to bringing Zelda home and now strictly basing my activities around what she could do as she grew from eight-weeks to one year old. First, we started out with mountain biking with her riding in a backpack as I peddled both of us up and down the trails. Instead of being focused on the ‘workout’- biking for improvement, pushing myself, working hard, getting that ‘training session in’ - I focused on her. The first time we did this together I stopped a little way down the trail, swung her in her pack around to my front to see how she was and I’ll never forget the look on her face: pure bliss, she loved it! And from that moment on, I suddenly was experiencing mountain biking - something I have done so many times before - in a whole new way, in this shared state of pure bliss. We biked like this until she was too heavy for me to realistically and safely bike with her on my back, and then we switched to walking every day, three times a day, because she couldn’t run yet or put in long miles alongside my bike all at once.

When it came to running, instead of leaving her at home so I could go by myself, I slowed down for her. Prior to Zelda, I had another dog named Maggie. I would get my running and biking in to get it over with before walking her. I would push through the motions in this state of mind that was so far away from being present. I would even listen to podcasts; trying to kill two birds with one stone while walking the dog after my run - feeling like I should be learning something while getting that ‘to do’ done for the day. With Zelda there was something about her that had me leaving the phone at home and the podcasts behind. Instead I found myself wanting to disconnect from it all, and what a joy that was to just walk and watch her interact with the environment, watch her goofy little way of walking and running that synchronizes with her little grunts, plus the pure love and enjoyment she has for her surroundings, the world underneath her paws and the life she was now living. Through her eyes I was experiencing the world in ways I was blindly blocking out before by being so disconnected from it all.

As Zelda got older we started to move together even more. Ski season hit, and unlike before where I rushed through a ski to get a workout in and onto the next thing, I was paying attention to how the snow was falling, the way Zelda’s goofy body slid down the trail like an otter, and how she energetically bounced in and out of the woods as we traveled the trails. I now was listening, not to music, but to the softness that is winter: the sound of skis moving through the snow, cool air moving in and out my lungs, and wind moving through snowy branches. Then spring arrived and there we were back out on the mountain bike again, only this time, she was big enough to run on her own four feet behind me. We were moving faster together yet it still felt like time was standing still as we quickly covered long miles of winding trail. I found myself mesmerized by the sound of the bike, her breathing behind me, the sound of her paws on the dirt, the tires rolling over rock and root. Getting lost in the way she was taking in the world around her as if I was feeling her uninhibited joy and happiness bee-bopping from trail to woods, bunny hopping straight up in the air, ears following suit in synchrony with the mere chirp of a chipmunk.

So how has a dog who’s bred to go a thousand miles an hour actually slowed me down? She has brought me out of this fast-paced moving mind, to a slower place of truly being connected to the moments I am experiencing. Life was flying by before Zelda – fast. And I realize it was moving so much faster than it needed to because I wasn’t fully present in my moments. Zelda brought me back, back to a more slowed-down mindset of simplicity. She disconnected me from this fast-paced digital world, or the feeling of always needing to be doing more instead of just being present in what I was doing. Zelda, in I can’t think of any better words - got me to see the importance of ‘stopping and smelling the roses.’ Life doesn’t have to be so fast passed. We are actually fully responsible for making it that way. Which means we are also fully responsible for moving a little slower in the world, slowing down and enjoying all the little moments that were meant to be seen.

11 views0 comments


bottom of page