Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Running Buddy...

My running buddy is awesome. She is always ready to go for a run. Just the word "run" gets her excited and she bounds out the door with glee unmatched by any other runner I've ever met. No weather is too hot, cold, snowy, wet, or otherwise undesirable for her. She constantly urges me to go faster. She's eager to see the world, the other runners, to just keep moving through the outdoors powered by her own feet. She quite simply enjoys the run.

My running buddy is named Abby, and she's almost a year old. She's a Black Lab named mixed with something else that has kept her tiny, powerful, and FULL of energy. She is 50 pounds of muscle, and no run seems too long for her. After 4 miles, all I want to do is stretch, drink water, relax. My running buddy? She wants to chase her ball and do laps around our living room.

Really, how do you say no to this face?

My running buddy is an asshole. She knows that when I put on certain clothes, I'm getting ready for a run. She knows that when I put on certain shoes, we are almost ready. She knows that when she has her harness on, it's time to get out the door! She will bound around excitedly, run to the door and back to me until it is time to go.  Yet, despite this knowledge and this glee, she is a pain in my ass from the start.

She knows her harness means run time. She gets excited as soon as I get it out. And then she fights me for 20 minutes while I try to get it on her. She runs from me, tries to nip my hands (gently), does everything she can to keep it off. Once it's actually on, she's fine, but we better get out the door fast because she is amped!

She runs for the glee of running. The sniffing, the exploring, the fact that we're going on a really long walk, except it's faster!  A run with Abby will include no fewer than two potty stops. Yes, my running buddy regularly makes #1 and #2 in the middle of the run. Right there on whatever course we are using.

She ping-pongs from side to side of the sidewalk, sniffing people, eating snow, investigating telephone poles and trash piles. This results in numerous 2 second stops, several arms being jerked nearly out of socket, and countless urges to "COME ON, ABBY!!"

She will come to a complete stop and when the urge to move forward sinks in, she will charge ahead as fast and hard as she possibly can, taking me from run to stop to sprint all in 5 seconds. She will look back at me, decide I'm cruising just fine, and start to run harder, pulling me along as I fight her to return to speed, "Whoa Abby! Whoa!"  She will stop and jump on my hip, causing us both to stop, and then sprint ahead like it's all a game.

And yet, try as I might, I can't leave her behind. I've threatened her on several occasions, when she fights her harness extra hard. "Ok Abby, I don't care. I'm going without you. No run." She'll inevitably cock her head at the 'r word', and I'll inevitably come back for another 10 minutes of fighting with her, until we're both ready to go face the day's weather.

Annoyed as I get, as much extra effort as the run takes, try as I might, I can't leave her behind. My running buddy runs just to run. She loves to run. She loves every step, every smell. She loves when we return home, slow to a stop, and she gets the pat on the back, a "Good job! Good girl, Abby!" She loves that difficult first step out the door, and she loves the last sprint home. She loves the in between, the new parts of town she's never sniffed. She loves it all.  I don't know when I'll have to leave her. We're going 5 miles today. She's gone 4.9 before. I know at some point, the runs might get too long. I don't know when that will be. But for now, I'm going to keep letting my running buddy show me how to enjoy the run.

Do you run with your dog? How far do you think is too far?  Do you have a harness you like?

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