For this I am thankful: Stinker can still trail run with me

Stinker is now 12 1/2 years old, has 2 bionic knees, arthritis in her front leg, a mass on her liver (that is not cancerous, thank goodness) but she can still kick my butt running on the trails.  Good for her.

Winter is most definitely her season.  She was built for winter.  -15 F?  What cold?  The cold and snow rejuvenates her back to puppyhood.   I mean, she still plays like a puppy in the house with her rocks and golf balls and she still wrestles with Hubby and me, but the heat of summer definitely was hard on her this year and her age began to show.  This past summer was hard on me, too.  It was so incredibly hot and uber smokey from wildfires.  I was really glad to see summer end–and that’s not something I would ever say given how much I love to hike, backpack, kayak, garden, lay in the grass….but it was so miserable outside this summer that you couldn’t do any of those things without choking on smokey air.  So when we finally got our first snow in early November, Stinker was so excited that she would just run around in circles in the yard spinning donuts–but not actually completing a full donut before beginning the next one.  She was in full puppy mode.  Like 10 years had been erased from her life.  She could not eat the snow fast enough and she could not head dive into it long enough before she had to come inside because I was freezing my butt off standing on the front stoop watching her play in the snow.  For whatever reason she will not play outside without adult supervision, despite having a doggy door of her very own to let herself out whenever she wants.  I think she likes having an audience.

Given her age and all her old lady issues, I wasn’t sure she would be up for trail running this year.  But she put all those questions to rest as soon as the snow hit, so we are back at it about once a week now.  The runs are short, but that’s ok.  I’d rather run a short run with her than a longer one by myself.  Besides, I teach barre 3 days a week at the gym and I’ve begun running a mile on the treadmill after I teach class to help burn off these extra holiday calories that keep finding their way into my diet. Then one day a week I hit the gym to lift weights and do a longer run on the treadmill. So a short run with my Stinker is just an added bonus to my fitness routine.

When we run, she runs ahead of me to sniff out pee spots to mark ‘her turf’ then once I have run past her, she’ll run hard to catch up, racing past me and nearly knocking my knees out from under me sometimes.  It gives me great joy to watch her blow past me so she can once again lead the way.  I think she enjoys the extra chase to catch up because she always seems to have a smile on her face.   Once she has passed me again, she’ll settle back into her mellow trot, sniffing out the next spot to mark.  And she actually hikes her leg to pee on things–weird, I know.

Every time we go for a run or a long hike, it’s like she’s having the best day ever.  If only we could all be so grateful to alive and out running and sniffing and peeing on everything in sight.  I realize I am lucky.  And so I am incredibly grateful for these moments, because I don’t know how many more I will have with her.  But I’ll take each one I can get.

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