You are never given the dog you want, but the dog you need.

Taking those first steps all over again

While few of you out there may actually know who I am or anything personal about me, other than my love of most any animal (besides snakes and spiders), there is one thing you should know. I love running.

Now, don’t start thinking I’m one of those people who goes out on a run, straps on a bunch of fancy gadgets or throws on a spendy pair of running shoes. Not that there’s anything wrong with people who have special gadgets or fancy shoes, I’m just not one of them. Although, I do love the idea of those barefoot shoes… But, let’s be realistic. I’m a college student with a limited income. My shoes, while I do adore them, were a max of $40 at Big 5, my clothes are whatever I don’t care about getting sweaty that day, and the only technology I ever have on me is my iPod.

There’s just something freeing about running. I don’t know what it is exactly, but whatever it is, is magical. The feeling of feet pounding against the cement, track, trail, whatever it is that day, never fails to make me grin. Sure, I could be like one of the girls at the gym who looks perfectly made up 24/7, but frankly…I’m not. I sweat. I’m talking buckets of the stuff, wiping my face with a towel, gulping water like I’ve never seen it before, kind of sweating.

To any who can actually manage to get a decent workout done and not look like a bedraggled sweat monster by the end, more power to you. I wish I had that ability. But…I don’t. So, I accept that anytime someone sees me at the gym or running outside, I’ll probably look terrible and I’ve accepted that with an indifferent shrug.

However, my love of running has been somewhat diminished over the last few months and I never really faced the reason as to why that might be. Why was I so uncertain to start up again when my life settled into a solid rhythm again? The truth is, I knew the answer all along, I just didn’t really want to acknowledge the reason. I told myself, ‘I haven’t gone in months, I’ll be terrible when I start up again. My time will be pathetic and my mileage will have gone down so much.’

Truthfully, I’ve never really paid attention to how long it takes me to run a certain distance or even what distance I’m running. If I run 3 miles in 45 minutes, oh well.  If I run 5 miles in that same time, good for me. I don’t really ever care about how long it takes me, I’m just in it for the freedom that running brings. It’s not for health or weight loss or anything like that, it’s just for the sake of running. It’s a de-stresser.

The real reason is simple. I miss having her running next to me, tongue lolling out of her mouth as she grins up at me, fur brushing my leg as we make our way down the road. The excited way she would sniff every trashcan along the way during garbage day. The way she always looked so startled and curious when an otter would book it across the road to the stream on the other side. I missed it. I miss her. It wouldn’t have been the same and I was afraid of the tears and memories that would result if I were to go running without her now that she’s gone.

She was my first and only real running partner for the last few years when I was home. It was always lonely running and going on walks when I was at school, but I always had her when I went home to visit over breaks. I could have easily run with Bella, but again, she’s mom’s dog. That makes a big difference sometimes and this was one of those situations. She ran at a different pace, she wouldn’t always listen, etc. Daphne always did. She stayed glued to my side throughout each run. The only time she tried to break away was when another dog came after us last summer and even then, she was only trying to keep him away from us.

She had that effortless lope that was so enviable. The somewhat obnoxious way she would always crowd into my space just to let me know she was still there and happy. Even the occasional times where she would step on my foot as she wove in front of me during a bout of spaciness was what made running with her enjoyable.

It wasn’t until the other day that I realized all of this. I would be lying if I said that this wasn’t a painful realization, but it was tempered by another. Even if she’s been gone from this world for over 4 months now, she’ll never actually be gone from my life.

So, with this in mind, I finally threw on the shoes that have been staring at me every time I walked out the door. Taking a deep breath, I stepped onto the track and took my first steps in almost 6 months.

You and that huge nose of yours that always got in the way of everything. Even in this picture taken just a few days before your passing, you couldn’t help but be obnoxious with it until the very end. Those pretty, odd colored eyes of yours and that big nose are something I will never forget. You were my first running partner and I will forever treasure that gift.

I love you and miss you, big girl. Promise me that you’ll keep running by my side in spirit for many years to come. I never would have started without you by my side.


9 responses

  1. The Recycled Dogs

    Keep running and I hope that someday you’ll find and fall in love with a new partner.

    February 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm

  2. I’m so sorry! I never heard that Daphne passed :/ So many wonderful friends have been passing away lately and sometimes its so hard to bare, At least we know they are still always with us in spirit. Love your blog Anastasia! Hugs to you and your family! I’m so sorry about Daphne

    February 5, 2012 at 4:24 pm

    • Thanks Ashley 🙂 We were all a little caught off guard by it, to be honest. Within a month she was gone…It really does seem like so many people are losing their companions lately…the redeeming factor is that they’ll never fully leave us, so that makes it a little easier. Give your puppies a huge hug each and let them know how much they’re all loved!

      February 5, 2012 at 5:10 pm

  3. Brought tears to my eyes that I have to hug my Jack (my golden ret) a little bit tighter…
    I am happy that you are taking those first steps again and that in time, the loss will be a little bit more bearable.


    February 5, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    • Thank you for the kind words. While Daphne was not by any means the first pet that my family has lost, she was certainly the first that I would have ever claimed as ‘mine.’ Prior experience has taught me that time will help lessen the loss, it’s just going to take a while before I could ever run with another or bring a new dog into my life…Hug your boy extra tight and let him know how much you love him!

      February 5, 2012 at 7:28 pm

  4. Tina

    awww make me go for kleenex and all! I know when Bella was in for just the day at the vet’s I couldn’t run w/o her…so yes I know the feeling of solitude and incompleteness….hang in there-strap those shoes on and work through it. It will get better and we will just have to work to find a different partner for you. Love you! See you on the track!! 🙂

    February 5, 2012 at 8:07 pm

  5. Kristen

    What a beautiful post. Each time you run you should think of it as honouring her memory, because she’ll always be with you.

    February 6, 2012 at 1:31 am

  6. I’m so sorry to hear about Daphne! Your story is so heartfelt!! Thank you for sharing.

    I’m glad you got back into running—it is a great de-stressor and I’m sure Daphne is running beside you in spirit. I’m also sure she would hate to be the reason for you not to run, as I’m sure she loved every run she got to go on with you by her side!!

    Good luck with your healing & getting back on the track!!

    Also, great blog overall.

    February 7, 2012 at 4:51 pm

    • I’m glad I started running again too. I know she would have hated me to have stopped because of what happened and I know she’s next to me each time I head out onto the track or trails. She really was a great dog and running companion. I’m glad you liked the post and my blog though, it’s become my little labor of love 🙂

      February 11, 2012 at 4:23 pm

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