Guri’s First Race: Lake Willoughby 5 Miles

We were just going swimmin’.  That brown dog and I.

It’s just a swim.  I won’t push you too hard or too far.  I won’t take you any place we can’t go together.  I promised somewhere in my heart that I wouldn’t ask too much of you, and I wouldn’t let you ask too much of me.  Just enough.  Just enough to do this life together, to be with you.  Just enough: you and I.

And today, like so many other days, we’re just going swimmin’…

That brown dog and I. 

You weren’t allowed on the beach.  And isn’t that always the way those things go?  You weren’t allowed on the beach, and nobody around would have stopped you from being on it, either.  It wasn’t like we were going to be on that beach very long, anyway.

You were so confused by that leash too, wanting to run wild and cause havoc with all of your hyper energy!  Goodness!  I guess I had let you rest up plenty!

And you had to WAIT to get in the water.  Wait, wait, wait!!!  That was so WEIRD!  We never WAIT to get into the water.  We always just go for it when we’re ready.  But it took FOREVER!

Then, suddenly… we could go!  I kept that leash on you, so afraid you’d take out the other swimmers!  It’s not meant to be a full contact sport, but I wasn’t so sure you knew that.  What a mad rush!  But you were fine by the kayak and never intended to get very far from me.  Because you and I watch out for each other.  That’s what we do.

Some time passed and I knew you were fine.  I just knew – as we swam along together in the way that we do – that you were fine.  After several minutes I took that leash off of you.

Because we were just swimmin’.

That brown dog and I.

Because that’s what we do.

You were doing so well!  So very, very well.  I knew you could do it.  I knew you always had energy at the end of a three mile swim.  Always, always.  And in that brand new life vest of yours, you were fast!  You could do 5 miles.  I knew it.  But I also knew you didn’t have to.  Whether or not you made it, we did everything we had to do that day.

We went swimmin’.  Just that brown dog and I.

I kept checking up on you, and you kept checking up on me.  Even the kayaker said how concerned you were about me.  We’re good like that, you and I.  Toward the end, when we got into the miles you’ve never swum before, you slowed down and hung close.  I began to worry.  You don’t know how to quit.  I guess neither of us does.  You’ll just keep on keepin’ on.  You will if I will.  I know how you are.  I don’t know why you’re like that: why do you get so excited about me?  Why do you want to never be very far from me?  What is it about me that you think is just that wonderful?  I don’t understand.

What if… what if I’d never tried, Guri?  What if I’d never tried to take you swimmin’ with me?  What if you were just another brown dog with a crazy owner who likes to swim all the time?  Some part of me thinks you’d be just as happy… whether here or there or anywhere.  

Maybe… and maybe you were just made to be mine.  Because the best part about all of this, is that we swim together.

And when we could see the end approaching, I was so proud of you.  I could tell you were fine.  I could tell you would finish.  And I didn’t stop swimming until I thought I saw your paws hit the ground.  I walked in beside you, just so glad to have swum it with you!

You got out of the water like it was the best idea ever to swim over to THIS side of the Lake!  The people and the food and the great smells and everything was just so cool!  Goodness, you ran around like you hadn’t just swum 5 miles!  And of course you would pick the driest swimmer there to shake off next to.  Silly!

We did it.  Together.  All five miles of Lake Willoughby.  And maybe it’s a world record and maybe it’s not.  And maybe it’s not a great time for a human, or maybe another dog could do it faster.  But the best thing about us is that we did it together.  Because that’s what we do.  We swim with each other.  I won’t take you any place we can’t go together.  I promised somewhere in my heart that I wouldn’t ask too much of you, and I wouldn’t let you ask too much of me.  Just enough.  Just enough to do this life together, to be with you.  Just enough: you and I.

With you.

I just love swimmin’ with you.



It was always a dream to do a race with Guri and I’m glad that our story can inspire others.  To read more about Guri’s swimming, check out Open Water Dog on this blog or


5 thoughts on “Guri’s First Race: Lake Willoughby 5 Miles

  1. You look very relaxed after the swim, both of you 😉
    Two questions I have: how did you feed Guri before and during the race? How drafted whom?
    Rainer, Austria.

    • Before the race I gave Guri her regular breakfast – a high protein dog food that mushers give their sled dogs – and then I followed it up with peanut butter an hour or so before the start. She was sometimes ahead of me but, for the most part, she stays just to my side and I’m not sure if we are close enough to draft off of each other or just what.

    • Thank you, Helen! It was so, so special to swim in an event with my four-legged swim buddy beside me! Words cannot express! Absolutely fantastic!

  2. Pingback: Adirondack Adventure Swimming: Moss Lake | Miss Adventure Swim

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