The benefits of being “a dog person”

The benefits of being “a dog person”

I have a dog. I didn’t always have a dog. Actually, until I was 10, our family pet was no more than a goldfish. Then my parents allowed me to adopt a kitten. That was it though. They liked to travel and a cat allowed for more flexibility. Plus, a cat didn’t need to be walked at all hours of the day in all kinds of weather.

I considered myself a cat person. I adopted a cat when I finally had my own place that allowed pets. When I got engaged to my husband who had a severe cat allergy, I found a new home for the cat. That never sat quite right with me, because he got to keep his dog (who was his from a previous relationship). I decided I was never going to like that dog!

Since we lived in a building that wouldn’t allow dogs, the dog stayed at my mother-in-law’s and he went there to care for it. I didn’t. When we got our first house five years later, Cody, a Miniature Schnauzer, came to live with us. I was ambivalent. Then that first morning with the dog in the new house, that damn dog was so excited to see me get up! I immediately thought, “okay, dogs are different.”

In the days and weeks and years that followed, this dog tried so hard to make me love him every chance he got. And I started to care for him as much as “his dad” did. I was a dog person! Now more than 20 years and two more dogs later I have Enzo. Enzo is an 8-year-old Australian Shepherd-Poodle mix (Aussie-Poo, Aussie-doodle, or designer mutt depending on who you’re talking to).

I absolutely love this dog! When my life was taking so many difficult turns, he was there. I am never completely alone because I have him. He never quite became a runner like my previous Wheaten Terrier, Malachy, but he is so special in his own way.

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Malachy and Me. As we appeared in the May 2006 issue of 201:The Best of BergenPhoto Credit; Ted Axelrod

I have learned that having a dog is really good for people. Dogs force people to move. Walking my dog is a big part of why I’m able to make my step goal on days I don’t run. Have you ever noticed that people shopping at all-night grocery stores are buying pet food? We won’t make the effort for ourselves a lot of the time, but we won’t let our pets go without. That’s why dogs are so good for the elderly and people who live alone.

Most of the people I have met in my building since moving to Chicago are fellow dog owners. Even people in the street walking their dogs are so much friendlier and more approachable. Our dogs give us something in common immediately. With the severe cold snap we had in Chicago a few weeks ago, the only people I saw out in my neighborhood (although for only five minutes at a time) were dog owners!

There are times when having to take a dog out at all hours of the day in all kinds of weather can be a bit of a drag, but that is offset by the unconditional love they give us. He is always – 100% of the time! – absolutely happy to see me! If you live alone – or have teenagers – you need that.

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Enzo’s first visit to Lake Michigan. Chicago, Illinois. July 2018.

 

A challenge to be thankful for one thing everyday

A challenge to be thankful for one thing everyday

I was going to publish something totally different today and then this morning this “memory” from 2014 popped into my Facebook news feed:

What I’m positive about/thankful for…Day 5 of 5…

1. I can run, as it may be the only thing that’s keeping me sane (I’m also thankful for my amazing coach, Rob McCarthy, who also has me running fast, which is keeping my self esteem at an all time high);

2. I’m thankful for my friends…all of you…and especially a few in particular (who I won’t call out here in fear that someone not included may feel slighted)…the really special ones – you know who you are – you have been there when I needed you, you knew when to make me laugh, when to just listen, when I needed a pep talk, you knew the right thing to say, or knew when it was best to say nothing at all , you’ve made the last 5 months fly by and made sure I knew I was a survivor. Thank you!

3. And finally, my dog, because when all else fails, I never doubt that at least HE loves me.

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Garden escape: the holiday weekend at home

Garden escape: the holiday weekend at home

If you’ve been wondering where I’ve been, you can find me in the garden. Next to running, gardening is one of my most cherished activities. When I hurt my back in 2011, friends asked if it was a running injury. “No, a gardening injury,” I’d reply.
When I moved into my house almost 10 years ago I had a vision for an enormous – meditative – wild flower garden, a big private green lawn where my daughter and dog could play, a  patio with a fire pit that could host gatherings of friends or be a quiet retreat. As purchased, the house had none of that.
But as I said, I had a vision; which I turned into a plan (more on the importance of having a plan in July). That project became an escape, like my running, from all the stress life was throwing at me for all those years. Like an artist whose craft becomes the outlet for their pain, I created a masterpiece amid the turmoil.

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In Celebration of Global Running Day -Run Like a Dog!

In Celebration of Global Running Day -Run Like a Dog!

Today is Global Running Day. If you haven’t gotten a run in yet, put your trainers on and get out there! If you can, find a friend. Today running with others is a great way to celebrate our global community! Tonight I will be coaching my running club’s summer speed session; first of the season! This morning I ran with my dog.

Running with my dog – a dog, any dog – was a vision I had since I started looking at colleges over 35 years ago. It was part of  how I pictured my future self— never mind that I never had a dog and hated running. That my friends is a testament to how visualization works. Imagine your best self; create an imagine of the ideal life to make it happen.

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