It’s dark by the time I leave work. Arnie pants beside me, either in anticipation or because the seat-heaters are cranked. I turn them down to give him some relief. It’s dumping snow, cold and windy, and all my friends bailed on this training session with me, but Arnie hopped into the car, tail-wagging and smiling. I’m glad he still wants to go.
We are headed to Mill Creek Canyon where I will skin by headlamp and he will run ahead, sniffing and snorting in the snow. When I feel tired or out of breath or like I’d rather be eating a bowl of pasta and watching re-runs, I’ll watch him prance around and post-hole and charge tirelessly forward, and decide to keep going. That’s why I love to work out with Arnie.
Often, while night-skinning, my eyes water from the cold and the effort, and in the blur, I’ll swear I see something moving a few hundred feet ahead of me. Is it another skier? A moose? A sociopath sinking into the shadows and waiting for our arrival? Arnie always sees it to, though, and stops short to examine what I feel. He drops his head low and stares hard into the darkness. Then he stretches is head up tall and sniffs the air. Finally, he looks at me, tongue hanging out the corner of his mouth and almost – almost – shrugs. “Its nothing. Let’s go.”
And with that he’s off, and I’m left to catch up.