“Great job Ruby!” I cheer to her. “Keep it up!”
She trots along on all fours, skipping next to me, grinning all the way. Her name is Ruby and she is my new running partner.
My dad had attempted a run with her already once but found her excitement did not transfer to endurance. So instead I decided a few weeks ago we would enjoy a short twenty-minute run together. It began with the constant tugging of her adrenaline fueled flee from the confines of her fenced in back yard. Quickly though I discovered she was true to her “dog nature” pertaining to squirrels.
My arm snagged this way, the leash entangled around a street light and the dog on the other end, staring at me, confused at the predicament.
We made it home alright though, nineteen minutes and – seconds later. “You ran 8:06 minute/mile pace Ruby dog! Good girl!” She runs to my mom on the sofa in the living room, grinning of course, tongue hanging halfway to the floor. She lays down for half a second then with endorphins pumping through her veins runs to find the nearest demented tennis ball. After skidding across the hard wood floors and showing off her tennis ball to every living thing in the vicinity, less than five minutes later she is laying half-dead on the floor. The endorphins wore off and now all she is left with is the remembrance of the high that running brought her.
We continued our tradition the next day with an evening run. I realized that in the dark, as well as there being less squirrels, she cannot see them as easily. My strategy accompanied with avoiding parks and busy roads racing with frightening automobiles, led me and Ruby to a 7:30 minute/mile pace twenty-five minute run. Ruby led the way to begin and then as the lactic acid built, she slowed to a sustainable pace and eventually to a near-crawl. With a quick cheer “Come on Ruby! Keep it up!” however, she was back to the sprint, tongue flapping with each stride.
I see how excited Ruby is to run near freely and I remember why I love running so much. In addition to the release of endorphins, it is the pure instinctual element of the present nature of running. While sometimes I want to strangle her when we run, Ruby is my new favorite running partner even if plainly for reminding me of the simple joy of running.
Now every time I put the hat and gloves on, lace up the shoes, and hide the house key, Ruby jumps up and down like a kid stepping into Disney World. “Alright Ruby dog! Lets go you crazy mutt!”