Mercury no longer eats running watches, and has started to run with me. His first birthday was last Saturday, and I decided he was old enough to go out for more than 20-25 minutes. Of course when we walk he runs around like a madman, and if I throw a ball he'll do 25x100 metre repeats at 30 mph with 10 second recoveries (see the pictures, featuring a demonstration by my assistant), so I figured a run with me would be a cakewalk.
We've been out a few times now, a mile and a half on lead, four off lead, then a mile and a half back on lead, out to and over Baits Bite Lock. He rushes ahead and lags behind, of course, but he's less inclined to eat cow shit when running with me. He's good company, and it's fun to watch him sprint effortlessly past when he's catching up.
This morning as we were heading back along the tow path he didn't catch up. I called for him. He didn't come. A sculler went by. "I think he's in the river". Sure enough, I looked to the water, and there he was, a hundred metres behind, his pointy head poking out, splashing furious. Despite being a bird dog he's not very confident in water. He must have fallen in, or perhaps jumped in after a duck. Or decided that, having conquered running, he was going to train for a duathlon. I sprinted back. The bank was quite high, and he was panting, doing the doggy paddle, drifting along the riverbank.
There was nothing for it but to lie in the bed of nettles -- I was wearing shorts -- and lean into the river to haul him out. He was cold and wet. I was stinging and cold and wet. It started to rain. We ran back. He learned his lesson. He's sitting in the kitchen smelling like a sewer. And I have big nettle weals on my bare legs. He's a good running buddy, but he needs to work on his training schedule.