Sunday, June 19, 2011


I am allergic to dogs. I dislike the way they chew my books. The puppy ate all four corners of my piano bench. They steal food from high places they shouldn't be able to reach. They come breathe in your face when you are trying to nap on the couch. They drag in redwood needles on their fur and their muddy paws track dirt on my floor. They bark at passers by. So naturally, I have three of them.

Yesterday on my run in the woods, I took them each out for a loop. My two young ones were pretty zonked by the end of their loop. It was rather pathetic, actually. Miles, the puppy poodle, cannot seem to understand the point of running at all. He loves to play chase with our neighbor poodle Francie, and those two will run all day if we let them, but ask him to run at my side and he stares at you perplexed, occasionally giving you that poodle head tilt, which is a combination of goofy and sublime. One or twice yesterday, he sat down and dug his paws in. I loved him up and he seemed willing to give it another shot. I will teach this dog to run. I will.

I am preparing my heart. My best running companion for years now is getting old. Pushing 90 if you believe the dog:human years system. He used to go deep in the woods with me, running for 90 minutes or longer sometimes. He could hear me putting on my running shoes from across the house. Seriously, he can tell my running shoes apart from every other pair of shoes I own. How does he do that? But now, he is nearly deaf, and his cataracts an alarming silvery hue. A few weeks back, he could barely walk from his arthritis. Since then we have him on NSAIDs, and they are truly a miracle for him. So yesterday, when I was doing my loops in the woods and he was begging me with his happy voice and his rotatory tail wag and his old man puppy dance, I decided to take a chance on running with him, just hoping I wouldn't cause him pain.

We have put in so many hours together in the woods, at the beach. He sometimes drags large sticks while running. On spring days in the woods he'll jump in the creek and look for rocks to play with (a certain passion of his). He catches snakes. He treed a squirrel once. He even briefly chased a mountain lion a few years back, which was terrifying for both of us I think. Buster is a working dog, and for him, running with me is his job. He understands me, and his passion for the run may even surpass my own.
Yesterday, despite my fears, Buster outran his younger pack members. He gives me hope for my aging body. He is worth every sneeze and debilitating allergy attack, every stolen and half eaten sack of flour spread all over my living room floor, every house full of sand after a trip to the beach. I'll take his doggy breath and his incessant need to play ball. He's my best running friend.

1 comment:

  1. A dog could not ask for a better tribute. I had a dog named Butch while growing up in New Orleans. He protected me from attacks by an untold number of chameleons which inhabited the bushes around our house. I'm sure he was as proud of that as Buster was for standing up to the mountain lion. But maybe not as scared. Thanks for sharing his story. I hope he has many more NSAID-aided miles to go.