Steve Boers (man) and Manny (dog) have an understanding, though. When the socks and shoes go on, it is time. The garage door opens to fresh air and a jerky, uneven jog. The man has a rather stiff gait. The dog is completely blind.
The 60-year-old holds the 100-pound male Irish setter's long leash in one hand and kennel mate O'Toole's in the other.
It's a thing of beauty how the trio works together.
Boers, a sort of seeing-eye human, gives verbal cues as the dogs burst from the garage before settling into a reasonable trot.
"Curb Manny," Boers calls out.
Manny paws at the air a bit and gingerly lifts his front paws high to clear the curb. As he trots to the middle of the road, down the cul de sac near Saylorville Lake in Ankeny, he stops to mistakenly paw the air again, and Boers calls out "no," meaning "no curb."
As they descend the hilltop neighborhood to a hard-surface trail and take a left, sighted O'Toole does his job, bumping Manny's side to indicate a turn.
"Even our vet can't believe it," Boers says. "But setters have a desire to run."
Manny is 8 years old and just keeps going, not unlike his owner, who has faced his share of challenges.
His 29-year-old daughter, Stephanie Boers, died in 2000 from acute heart arrhythmia. Three dietary supplements were found in her system. The active, successful woman was just trying to slim down for her wedding.
The high-maintenance setters — well, they kept him going.
"But it about destroyed me," Boers says.
He's also talking about what happened to the dog that came before Manny. He found out it had diabetes. But as a successful owner of T3 Technologies, he could afford to spend $40,000 on eye surgery. That dog wouldn't go outside anymore after surgery and died a month later.
The apologetic Kansas City breeder of the dog offered Manny to Boers five years ago. Then Boers noticed Manny was urinating constantly and had him checked last summer. The vet found he also had diabetes. Within two months, Manny was completely blind and bumping into everything.
Boers chose not to do the surgery again. Instead, they worked together. He guided Manny around obstacles in the backyard at first, once running smack into a boulder, but now the setter mostly finds his own way, his snout lifted high in the air, smelling and sensing objects. He carefully feels for the cement around the in-ground pool, but the dog O'Toole helps him out, too.
"They feed off each other. And they have a competitive spirit," Boers says. "If something moves in the backyard, like a ground squirrel, O'Toole will take off with Manny right behind her."
Boers faces another challenge, though. He closed T3 Technologies, which among other projects helped to equip the Great Ape Trust with high-tech electronics. In recent months he was laid off from a subsequent electronics technology job. At age 60, he says it's a difficult search for employment.
But he keeps on, and so does Manny.
"Man's best friend," he says. "I don't know what I would do without them."
That blind dog, sniffing and finding his way, keeps him grounded, in the moment, moving forward.
"We still keep running," Boers says.