Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Tribute To My Running Partner

March 1st usually marks the beginning of the running season for me. It’s the day I dig my shoes out of the shoe bench, brush off the cobwebs and stuff my bunions inside. Traditionally what would follow is a game of cat and mouse involving me (the mouse) trying to sneak out of the house sans running partner, Bud (the cat, who in this case is actually the dog.) Years ago, Bud made it his life’s mission to never let me leave the premises on foot unless he was with me. As time went by, he got slower and slower, and then eventually he went deaf.

Having a slow, deaf dog tag along on a run was not my idea of exercise and I began to cleverly sneak away when he wasn’t looking. I’d peep out the window to see where in the yard or on the porch he was laying. Then I would exit through the door farthest away from him. He couldn’t hear so if I was vewy, vewy qwiet (Elmer Fudd) I could get out of sight before he woke up and noticed me. I thought.

But Bud had a keen nose on him that must have been compensating for his lack of hearing. That blasted dog could smell me leave the house. (I didn’t think I smelled that bad really.) So I had to watch out the window to see which way the breeze was blowing and throw that into my sneaking equation also. This might be a good place to add that I’m really bad at math so anything involving equations for me is not going to end well.

No matter how quickly or quietly I left the property, about a half a mile down the road I would hear the jingle of his dog tags and the clacking of his toenails on the pavement somewhere behind me. I would turn around and there in the distance, smiling with his tongue hanging out would be my old pal Bud, jogging to catch up with me.

The Husband once watched Bud track me through the yard after I left. He said Bud appeared out of nowhere (he had been sleeping under the porch) and starting sniffing all around the house till he found my scent at the door. Then he tracked my steps down to the shop (where I had stopped to say “Hey! I’m going for a run –try to distract Bud if you see him” ) and then proceeded to zig zag through the yard in the exact same places I had walked. Yes, he would follow me anywhere.

Part of this weird devotion started when he was young. Bud & I were strolling down the road together and he hopped up on a bank into a field to sniff around. The weeds were high and he didn’t know I was there when he came leaping through them, off the bank and onto…me. He flattened me right there on the road. It knocked me almost to the yellow line where I lay, staring at the sky and laughing, despite the road rash. Thank God no one ran me over. Bud ran over to me and desperately licked my face in an apology. After that incident, he never left my side again. I didn’t have to use a leash, he stuck right there with me. Until he couldn't keep up anymore. But that didn't stop him from trying.

You may be thinking "Why not just tie him up or throw him in the house if you didn't want him to go?" Valid question. Believe me, I tried. But the minute Bud smelled my running shoes, he'd go bananas and turn into a puppy again, jumping and leaping away from me every time I lunged at him to put him in the basement. There was no catching him. If he saw: me in a pony tail, me wearing running shoes, or me in a baseball hat, an aura of joy immediately enveloped him, giving him super canine powers to scamper and evade. These powers only lasted until I actually started down the road with him in tow and he would revert back to Old Man Winters again, still smiling cause he won.

Last summer I all but gave up and just walked all year, knowing there was no escaping Bud. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em. So we poked along all summer and fall.

But this year it will be different. My oldest running partner got called home in November, leaving a big sad empty hole in our lives where he used to be. His collar is hanging on a peg in the basement. I’ve laced his dog tags onto my running shoes so he can still be with me every time I go for a run. What I wouldn’t give now to hear those toenails clacking down the road again.

In Loving Memory
Nov. 1996 - Nov. 2010


Darby said...

Awwww, Kelly, that's so sad :( I'm all teary-eyed just reading that. Although I am a cat person, the unconditional love of an animal means so much!!

Anonymous said...

sesseNot fair to make Grandmother Supreme cry...remember he was my Grandson and I finished raising his Mom and Sister..I carry Angel's tags in my little Kia Rio with me every trip..Those puppies had very good genes and oh, how we loved them....<3...<3...

Bonnie said...

Kelly I just cried like a little baby. That was really beautiful. I bet he is still running right along side of you now.

Anonymous said...

Wow....I'm sitting here hoping my husband doesn't see the tears roll down my cheeks. These fur babies of ours are family and just not around long enough for us to love. RIP Bud.

Cindy OBrien