Partners in Crime
It was a misty and somewhat chilly Saturday morning, and I was out for a really short training run of 2 miles. Normally, 2 miles isn’t what I would call a training run unless I was doing some sort of time trial, or speed work. In fact, it’s usually a warm up. On this day, however, the training run was not for me, but for Diesel, my 10 month old Viszla puppy. This was his very first run with me on a leash for any kind of distance that didn’t include chasing squirrels, or doing his business. This was just the beginning of what I hope will be a long running partnership.
I waited a while before taking him on this inevitable venture because I wanted him to be sufficiently grown, but mostly because of nostalgia for Scout, my 120 lbs. Rhodesian Ridgeback, who died of bone cancer at only 8 years old the previous January. Scout was a great runner for his size. He was solid muscle, lean, with long legs that carried him effortlessly by my side for many a mile. He followed me every moment I was home just waiting for me to get the leash and say, “Let’s go!”
The day I noticed the bump on his right foreleg, I instinctively knew it wasn’t good, and that our time together would soon be coming to an end. That was the same day our running partnership officially ended.
I was sad for myself, but even more so for Scout because of how much he loved our time together running the trail near our home. He never complained that it was too cold, or too hot. It never bothered him when we got up very early, or how fast or slow our progress was. The simple joy of being outdoors running together was enough. On those mornings when we would usually go running, it was tough for me to leave him behind, and even tougher while I was out there alone. He was my partner in crime, my lead dog, and my wingman. He made sure the path was ok for me to follow, and that passers by knew not to get too close unless I said it was alright. The memories I have of running with Scout, are some of the best I’ll ever have, and he was the best running partner I ever had.
So, on that wet morning with Diesel, I felt conflicted. I was sad for the runs gone by, but happy for the runs to come. It’s going to take some time before Diesel is the runner that Scout once was, but I know he’ll settle in soon. In fact, during this “training run”, he only tried to kill me one time by running under my legs. Once we got past the first mile and turned for home, all the sights, sounds, and smells that had been distracting him on the way out, didn’t interest him as much. He has tremendous energy, and likes to pull quite a bit, but there were moments when he just trotted along by my side looking out at the path ahead wondering, I’m sure, where this adventure was taking him, and what was waiting around the next bend, just like Scout used to do. In time, he’ll understand his role as my sidekick, and motivator. There’s nothing like having a dog to run along side you. It takes your mind off all the modern day distractions, and brings you to a place more primal and free. I know I’ll have great new adventures on the trail with Diesel, and more memories to look back on, but at this moment, my mind is on Scout. I know you’re somewhere waiting for me buddy, just waiting for me to grab the leash again and say, “Let’s Go!”