*This post first appeared at Tumblr. I am re-posting because I anticipate losing my soul to NaNoWriMo, and I want to try and stay consistent with this here blog.
I have a love hate relationship with going on long runs with my dog Buster. On the love side, he’s a great motivator. All I have to do when I’m on the fence about going on a run is pick up my running shoes, and that damn animal explodes with joy. It’s contagious. He’s even conned my husband, an avid and committed couch surfer into running a few times, and before Buster I was convinced nothing short of a velociraptor out for sweet, sweet white guy blood would do that.
On the hate side, there’s the pulling.
I don’t know if any of you has ever tried to train a Pitt Bull how not to pull like the little Goddamn engine that could, but it’s challenging. It made me wonder at times: is trying to rip my spine out through my arm a life goal for my dog?
We’ve made some progress over the years. He mostly heels when we’re on a walk and he runs a few feet ahead of me. Normally, running with my dog is pretty enjoyable.
There is one notable exception to the happy, well-mannered running rule. Critters. Man, you put a terrier… any terrier in front of a small and fluffy, and they will turn into laser guided killing machines. It doesn’t really matter much what kind of small fluffy it is: rabbits, squirrels, chipmunks, whatever. If he sees it, he’s gone, and screw whoever happens to be holding the leash at the time.
That brings me to my tale of woe. Saturday morning I woke up early. The weather was fine, and I was feeling pretty good, so I decided to take his nibs out to the Great Western Trail for a long run. For those of you who don’t know it, the Great Western Trail is up in Northern Illinois. It’s about eighteen miles through farm and marsh land. Tall grasses and trees line the path. It’s a great place to go, and I tend to run at least ten miles. That day, my plan was to do about thirteen.
Well, about four miles in, I was feeling great, the dog was happy. All was right with the world. And then a fucking chipmunk darted out in front of us. And Buster gunned for it with every ounce of strength in his body.
Perhaps it might be helpful to note that while he is only 49 pounds, those 49 pounds are 100% lean muscle, and I was in mid stride.
Most people would just sort of instinctively let go of the leash at this point. Not me. Oh hell no. My reflex reaction to my dog tearing off like a bat out of hell is to form a death grip on the leash. My stubborn goes all the way down.
I sort of did a belly flop onto the gravel, and the dog proceeded to drag me three feet until he finally ripped the leash out of my hand.
I flailed on the ground for a few minutes, holding my gut and gasping for breath. TMI moment of the day: I have a fibroid tumor. It’s about the size of a grapefruit. When I was diagnosed, I joked with my husband that it’s really my twin that I ate in the womb. And I named him Eustace. Because he’s a painful asshole, and Eustace seems kind of like an asshole name. That’s why.
Guess who I landed on?
Oh yeah, that’s right. Eustace.
Instead of doing the sane thing and turning right the fuck back around and going home, where there are ice packs and heating pads, I was so mad that I ended up running ten miles.
Ten miles was how long it took me to stop chanting “Red Rum. Red Rum. Red Rum” in my head.
The dog was naturally perfectly oblivious to this fact. He’d chased a chipmunk AND gone on a run. Best Day Ever!
The next morning, I woke up bright and early, and because I am a total masochist, I went on a run again. This time sans dog.
Sweet saint fuck, was that ever a shitty idea.
It turns out Eustace really doesn’t like being dropped hard on a gravel trail and dragged three feet because the next day when I went running he felt sort of like he was trying to chew through my abdominal cavity. We already know who won that battle, so I kept running because if Caesar Milan has taught me anything, it’s important to assert your dominance.
Fortunately, that experience burned out all the pig headed I have in me for the week, and I won’t be running at least until tomorrow at the earliest.
So here I am again, dog sulking at the foot of the bed because I can’t run with him yet, cozied up to a heating pad, waiting for the swelling to go down.
Ain’t running grand?