Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Coming to Grips

Seven years ago, when Griffen was just a puppy, I clipped him into a leash and tried taking him for a jog. He clumsily bounded behind me, not quite sure what he was supposed to do. I tugged him along for maybe a half mile and returned home frustrated. I had an image in my head of my dog happily jogging along side of me, but jogging with a gangly lab puppy didn’t look like that image. At all.

But I didn’t give up on it. I took him along every day. I tugged on the leash and hollered “Left!” sternly, until he understood that when I say that he’s supposed to move over to my left and get the hell out of my way. Over the years Griffen’s logged a few thousand miles at my side. He’s come to recognize when I put on my jogging clothes and dances expectantly as I get ready to go. He lets out a Chewbacca like howl as I tie my sneakers on and paces by the door.

The last few weeks, with his allergies acting up, I haven’t been taking him along in an effort to cut down his exposure to pollen. The flare up passed, and I took him with me on a 3.3 mile walk/jog interval yesterday. He grinned as he loped along on my left, and stopped to pee on several mailboxes. He sniffed. He looked at me adoringly and wagged his tail as if to say “I am having such a great time. Thank you!” This was the image of jogging with a dog that I had in my head 7 years ago. And I enjoyed every jog with my running buddy for 7 years.

This morning I pulled on my jogging clothes as Griffen watched from his bed. “Griffen, come on,” I whispered. He sat and stared. “Come on buddy, wanna go for a run?” He blinked his eyes, and continued to stare. Normally, when I say the word “run” he leaps up onto all fours and is ready to rock. Not today.

Todd woke up, “He was a bit stiff when he was coming upstairs last night. I don’t think he wants to go,” he explained. I left Griff in bed, and ran on my own. I felt the breeze flow through my left hand sans leash.

I hate to imagine a time where he won’t be able to go with me anymore. The image of the puppy with the oversized paws bounding behind me is fresh in my mind. Back then I longed for a time when he would easily jog at my side. Now I long for a time when he pounces at my heels, not yet comprehending the word “Left!” before the thousands of miles passed under his paws.

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