This is a picture of my son’s dog at Thanksgiving when we got him, then at Christmas. Talk about a growth spurt!
I have a new running pal. He’s tall and handsome and a far better runner than I. Of course, he would be. He’s younger . . . oh, and he has four legs. I think that gives him an advantage. He’s my son’s dog.
I used to run with my best ever buddy, Sam. He’s been gone over a month, and I’ve given up hope we will ever be a jogging team again. So, the other day, I thought I might try running with our new, exuberant family member, a six-month-old Austrian shepherd, Teddy. He fit into my palm a few months ago. Now, he barely fits into my car. Always wanted a big dog but he takes some getting used to.
I clocked a new running path out from our mountain, turning left and along a long winding country road. I used to run three flat miles around a large block in Florida. This route is different because it’s a straight shot. No turns to distract you or give you an “O.K. I’m finished with the first quarter” booster. Man, a mile looks long when you are looking at it in one continuous line. And while this new route is not mountainous, it is full of inclines and gently rolling hills. Yikes. I am notoriously bad at hills. So, I just demand two running miles from myself for now– the third mile is now a steep walk up the mountain. That, I’ve decided, counts.
I’ve missed running, and I am ready to get back to it. I just can’t drive that 45 minutes to the gym anymore, and now that the weather is fine, I prefer being outdoors while getting my exercise. Running offers so much more than an visit to the gym, (mentally, spiritually, and it fuels the creative juices) at least, for me.
So, Saturday at 6 am, Teddy and I took off for our first ever run together. Not only has this dog never been on a run, he has never been on a leash. I let him go wild, exploring the mountain until we arrived at the road. Then I figured I had to put him on a leash, just in case. Should he prove a good boy, maybe we can run together without the leash later.
He didn’t fight the leash at all; in fact, he rather enjoyed staying close because he was a bit intimidated by the new surroundings. Twice a car passed us and he tried to chase it. This gave me a great opportunity to begin training him out of this annoying and dangerous habit. We passed a small bird on the road too, which again made me glad of the leash, because Teddy definitely wanted to chew the poor thing like one of my best shoes. I felt badly for it- even considered picking him up and taking him home – I assumed he had a hurt wing or something and needed a nurse. But I’m not ten anymore (when I did that sort of thing all the time) and I know better than to fool with Mother Nature. So I left the little guy flapping along the hill, even though it was obvious he was unable to get off the ground. This proved the right choice, because on our way back, I not only saw that little bird again, but three others exactly like him. Apparently, Saturday morning a mother bird decided it was time to shove her babies out of the nest. I’m guessing within a few hours they were flying, (God willing) as long as a dog like Teddy didn’t come along and decide they’d make a fun snack.
I loved running along that road, looking at miles of green pastures and lazy cows. I loved watching the sun come up, knowing it was the same sun that I used to watch in Florida, only now it looks so much less encumbered without houses littering the view. And it isn’t nearly as hot.
Teddy had a ball (so did I) and he even helped me up a few hills, pulling at the leash when my feet were dragging pitifully slow. When we got back to the mountain, I let him go. He jumped into the raging creek and drank deeply, like I’d taken him over the desert or worse. Guess it takes time to condition yourself for running. But if Sammy could handle it, (and an old chick like m) he certainly can.
I missed my Old Sam that day, but it was delightful to discover a new running partner who has so much enthusiasm and energy, he’s like the posterdog for the slogan “running is a joy.” It is, you know. I felt better after that run than I’ve felt in a long, long time.