Paul E. Anna: High Points | AspenTimes.com

Paul E. Anna: High Points

Paul E. Anna
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

My dog chases airplanes.

Yes, I fully know that some dogs have an affinity for taking off after the back bumpers of passing cars, and my dog does that as well. But his real joy is heading out, full speed, trying to catch the tails of jets as they scream through the sky.

Now I’m not talking about any jet at any time. No, my dog’s jet jaunts are reserved for the trail that runs along the Roaring Fork River just west of the airport near Jaffe Park. There, the planes on either approach or take-off from the end of the runway at Sardy Field scream through the skies just above tree-top level. If you’re not used to the experience or if you are there for the first time, it can be a little unnerving to the hear the roar of a United Bombardier as it powers up to speed, just overhead, on its way to Denver or Chicago or L.A.

But for my dog, a big and fast black Labrador retriever, each take off and landing is an excuse to launch into chase mode at what seems to be Mach 4 speed in pursuit of the heavy metal birds. We will be walking or jogging the trail and the sound will begin to rise. Sometimes it is a dull roar, other times a high -pitched whine depending upon the type of plane, but my Lab is ready either way. Once the plane comes into view he will go into chase mode, head turned high and tail erect in the air as he begins his futile attempt to catch the tail of the Lear or Cessna or, his favorite, the enormous Gulfstream 4’s that are so popular with the Aspen private-jet set.

As of yet he has not been successful in his quest to capture one of these behemoths. But that doesn’t deter him from trying. As the planes pass by, their clean white bottoms glistening against the bluest of skies, he will begin to bark at them. At first you can’t hear the bark because the jets are so loud, but once they leave our sight and the sound begins to diminish you can hear the “get out of here” in my dog’s bark. I’m not sure what my dog would do if he actually caught one (Oh, the humanity!!), if one day he leapt so high above the river that he actually was able to make contact and pull one of the jets out of the sky by the tail. And I’m sure he has no idea what he would do either.

But maybe that’s not the point. Maybe my dog knows that the fun in life comes not from the capture but from the pursuit. That the goal is not to catch a plane but rather to make a statement by chasing it. By letting it know that he is there watching, on guard as it were, protecting the trail and the park and the river from the enormous planes that fly by.

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As I watch my dog in his frenzied pursuit I always admire how he is consistently on the lookout. How he doesn’t get deterred by not being able to succeed, but rather he is content in trying.

Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from my jet-chasing dog.