Recovery Miles & Dogs & Such.

Today, I laced up for another 3.3 miles of recovery.  It was a little warmer than the last two runs, and yet I still went out sort of late.  I decided to go the opposite way and headed out to the trail by the golf course.   As I headed out there, I thought I would hit the trail, but I started to think about all the dogs I’ve seen here and there on that trail.  I decided that if I had to run for my life, I wouldn’t make it.  I’m simply not that fit yet.  So, I went to the right.  I don’t know what made me think of dogs, but it was on my mind.

I started to turn toward the corner of the trail, having done a sort of a block to block run for the first 1.5 miles.  Just as I turned, a German Shepherd stood lazily in the parking lot.  Nothing separated us but the chain link fence, and there was an opening in which he could simply charge at me.  I remembered this post, In Which I Speak Dog, when Kim and I had come across a Pit Bull on a long 17 miler.  She started pointing and yelling at him, and we both were saying NO NO NO…and the dog simply turned and walked away.

I always remember Canine Encounters article, in which there are several tips to deal with dogs.  Today, I stopped, turned and looked at the dog eyeball to eyeball and said “STAY!”  He really wasn’t very ferocious, but he stopped.  And, then he turned the other way.  As I sat in the spa today post run, I read the new Runners World with the article of the brothers who nearly died on a run from a pack of not-so-wild pit bulls.  It certainly was timely.

I ended this run with gratitude, and with hope of the coming Fall.  The air is getting crisper, and some of my favorite sounds wafted through my windows last night.  The football announcer can be heard because I live so close to the stadium.  Both of my boys are full of activity during the day, and then they meet their friends at the local football games at night.  Just like we all did in High School.

3.33 miles more in the Recovery Bank.  Stared down a dog, and feeling stronger every day.

My Princess Race

I ran on Wednesday, for the first time since the marathon.  I was in bliss.  I absolutely know that running is in my blood now.  Even though I bonked in San Luis, I know what went wrong, and why…and I know how to fix it.

On Monday, I put my sweet Princess to sleep.  I have missed her every single day.  Chet is quiet…his co-dependent barks are no longer.  I finally spoke to her vet this morning, and she was glad that the other doctor did it, because she was attached to Princess.  She said I did the right thing, that Princess had a bad cancer in a bad place.  And, that it was okay.

However, I am bereft.  It took all week to even forgive myself.  I was simply not okay.  I laid in bed looking out at the pool, seeing her happy little run and bark and remembering what a great dog she was.  And then, I remembered…I have another great dog right here.  Chet and I went for our first big walk in a long time…the boys usually take them…but he and I walked about a half mile or more last night.  He was thrilled.  He gets the good bed, the extra treats, and more head rubs.  He knows I’m sad.  He is my constant companion in the mornings.

In the last three days, I’ve had more friends in my life show up for me in ways I couldn’t have asked for.  From chats at midnight, to long recovery-laced talks during the day, to signing up for 5Ks and looking for half marathons.  I’m blessed to be sober, and also to be able to tell my group how screwed up I was.  From texts to emails to word games to phone calls…I am completely grateful.

Which brings me to the title of this post.

I got a Diva bib and sold it.  Then got another one from a very special gal pal.  Then another gal pal texted that she was driving through and wanted to pick me up…offered me her hotel room.  Last week at this time, I was in a hole.  This week I head to San Francisco to run a half marathon.  I ran 5 miles this morning at HMPace, and it was fabulous.  I’m planning on taking my time in SF, and really.  I just want to hang with the girls.

This race gives you a tiara.  A boa.  A medal.  Champagne (gotta remember not to grab that one).  It’s out and back, pancake flat, and clearly caters to the foo foo girls runners.  It’s not even called an Expo.  It’s a Health & Fitness Boutique.  I think these people have the lock on the pink thing.  I think it’s a hoot, since I generally look like a boy sans makeup and matching outfits.

But.  This race?  This race is for Princess.  It’s only fitting that I get all the trappings for her…for the two mismatched owner and dog team…not really Pink girls, not girls who would have pink boas.  Except this weekend.  I run each mile for her.

a long tribute to my sweet girl.

About a million years ago, I walked into the shelter, looking for a chocolate Lab.  We had seen Chet on their website, and thought, well…it’s time.  Actually, my thoughts were to get dogs to save my failing, faltering marriage.  This is not a good plan, by the way.  He left the following February.

We saw Chet jumping, and I told the boys, just let me go look around.  I saw Princess in the back of her kennel.  I asked the girl to let me see this dog.  She opened the gate, and Princess walked over to me, and immediately sat at my feet.  Her eyes begged “Rescue Me”, and she was so sweet and docile, and well…she loved me.  We heard that she had come to the shelter pregnant, and all puppies were euthanized.  The last family that had her had a lot of noisy children, and Princess hid behind their couch, so the family brought her back, and in bringing her back, gave me the biggest gift of all.

This picture is the first night we brought her home in the Spring of 2006.  As I sit here typing, I remember that first night.  She didn’t come in, but sat outside my bedroom door with her head up looking around the yard.  Every time I woke, there she was, surveying her new surroundings.She sat there a lot.

We soon realized that the pink ribbon wasn’t really her.  In fact, she quickly became the dominant dog, and I pictured her name being Ginger or something.  Cigar in paw, glass of wine, ordering people around.

She has neuroses.  The first Fourth of July, I left the dogs home, and when I had come home, the screens were off of my window, and she had taken down my glass to get herself into the house.  She hated wind and weather, climbing into the smallest space by my desk.  She has chewed off door jambs, gotten out of the tiniest places, and literally has been in jail at least 8 times.  There was time I tried to set up one of those electric fence thingys and just as I was teaching her this, she looked at me with the collar on, and jumped right over the fence.  That was a short lived experiment, but I was desperate.  In any case, this $35 shelter dog cost me somewhere in the neighborhood of $1000.  At least.  Even after she is gone, I’m still paying the umpteenth ticket on time.

The last few years, the Police would call my cell, and say…We have Princess.  Who can come and get her.  She simply needed to run free.  Her issues were fireworks, loud noises and cameras.  I have had the iPhone text on silent for so long, because she simply would leave the room in a panic.  This is a dog who did not respond well when the ex husband and I argued.  Still today, loud voices scared her.  Reluctantly at times, I would get in my car and drive down to the shelter to get her AGAIN.  I would be mad at her.  Frustrated.  Get her in the car, to the vet, to the dog groomer.  Again and again.  I stopped trusting that she would stay.  I accepted she was a runner.

Last month, she was diagnosed with an ugly rectal cancer that was starting to invade her pelvis.  Our doctor told us she had about a month.  Well, today it was a month.  The boys told me she couldn’t poop on the walks, and I had been watching her daily.  She still barked at the mailman, the pool man, anyone who came to my door.  Today, she was barking like crazy at someone…This dog howled at fire trucks and in the end, could barely get out a weak growl.

But.  We didn’t want her to suffer.  The tumor was getting bigger, and I knew it was only a matter of time.  The boys and I discussed it last night, and decided that today was the day.  We were to take her to the vet and assess the tumor.  The vet said it was a matter of time, that there was the alternative of stool softeners, etc.  However, I knew my children, my lovely young men who had spent hours walking these dogs, could not take more of saying goodbye.  We had decided as a family that this was the right thing to do.  That we simply did not want her to hurt.  Not one more day.  The inevitable was here.

She was not happy.  Agitated.  I laid on her blanket.  The one where she would take her last breath.  We were all petting her and telling her we loved her.  The shot was quick.  Her eyes simply closed.  We kissed and hugged her and told her we loved her…again and again.  I can’t tell you that that 10 seconds was quick.  It was forever and fast at the same time.

And then she was gone.

In the last days, she let Chet lay with her, and this was unheard of.  He walked around and around, and laid under the table all day…he knew.  He comes by my chair all day today, after she left…his buddy gone.

We talked a lot today how we rescued her from the shelter.  But it was the other way around.  She would go put her head on the boys’ beds and give them comfort when I had no more words for what was happening to their world.  She would lay by my feet while I cried buckets of tears.  She loved her morning walks, and sat by the window precisely at 3:15pm when the bus would deliver her charges from school.  In the morning, she would help me go from door to door getting up the sleepy teenagers, but at night.  At night, she was on her spot right by my bed.

We knew she needed to run away.  Perhaps she needed to know that we would never take her back to the shelter…maybe she tested the waters to see if I would come back for her.  And I always did.   Because that’s how I love.

She saved me.  And I will miss her for a long time.