Tethered.

Dear friends,

photo

This is Ed. Part Golden Retriever, part Labrador Retriever, Ed is a rescue dog that came into our lives some eight years ago after Parker begged for a canine companion of his own.

We had lost our Black Lab, Cassie, some time earlier and Ed came bounding into our lives just when our household of four broken hearts, two active children and one neurotic Chihuahua most needed him.

He’s lived in three towns with us, two in Oklahoma and now one in Missouri. He has adapted to spacious yards, small ones, the noise of city streets and now — a wooded 15 acres filled with deer and turkeys and rabbits and all kinds of woodland friends he loves to chase.

Of late, he’s been chasing something else.

My 1000 mile goal.

Ed is my running buddy. He’s covered every mile I have since I announced my goal and he’s done it with far more enthusiasm and grace than I have.

I never ran with Ed before we moved to Missouri. I’m not sure why except I just never did. Once we moved to Missouri, things changed. For one, we live in an area far outside the city limits where most of the dogs run free. Our pasture is fenced, but it’s far enough from the house that Ed and Frito (the aforementioned neurotic Chihuahua) were miserable when we first moved in and tried keeping them there (and tried convincing them to sleep in our barn). About a month in, we caved and let Ed and Frito run free like the other dogs. We moved their doghouse from the barn to a sheltered spot not far from our kitchen door and they were gloriously happy to cavort with neighborhood dogs at will and nap by the back door.

But once they were unfenced, our two outdoor dogs couldn’t help but follow me as I headed out on my runs. Whether I wanted it or not, I suddenly had running companions. After Frito died last year, the plural changed to singular, so now Ed is my trusty exercise buddy.

It’s been interesting, this journey into my own fitness that’s also a journey into Ed’s. At about 8 dog years, he’s older than me. His age shows most in the expanding mask around his eyes and the increasing time it takes him to rise after resting. But it sure doesn’t show on the hills, at least not as much as it does on me.

On weekday mornings we run before dawn and the neighborhood is deserted so I allow him to run off-leash. For the first month, I was so slow on the uphill climbs that he would often stop a few yards ahead of me and patiently wait for me to catch up. Occasionally, he would look over his shoulder at me as if to say “Come on. Can’t you go faster?” But mostly he just slowed his pace and/or patiently waited on me.

On weekends, though, I run much later, usually when cars and walkers and other dogs are out and about, so I put him on a leash. On those days that he is tethered to me, he can only get a leash’s length ahead of me and I don’t feel so slow. He is a good dog so he never tugs.

On Saturday, we ran late — almost noon — so I had him on a leash. And even though we put in six miles, I noticed I got far enough ahead of him on the final downhill run that I had to give him a little tug. It was probably unkind to Ed but it was good for my ego. “Come on, old boy,” I said out loud. “Keep up with this old gal. I’m beating you.”

It made me think about how fortunate I am to have such a faithful running companion. He never begs off, never gives up, never gets sick, never brags, never complains. Whether 7 degrees or 85 degrees, rain or shine, dark or light, he shows up. Tethered or not, he is my loyal sidekick who doesn’t know we have a goal but is determined to meet it every time I open the door and call his name.

With gratitude {for this family’s best friend},

Joan, who thinks if anything keeps her running for 52 weeks straight, it will be Ed

Winner, winner, fish dinner.

Dear friends,

I told you yesterday it’s fine fishing weather in my neck of the woods. Fortunately, we had another glorious spring day on Tuesday. While I was stuck in a poorly lit conference room leading a training session until after hours, my son was once again enjoying the benefits of living within walking distance of two well-stocked ponds.

Monday night, Parker came home empty handed. The fish just weren’t biting.

Tuesday night, Parker thought he was coming home with two fine specimens, but his plans were once again foiled.

Parker snapped this photo of our Golden Retriever, Ed, just as Ed snatched Parker’s first catch. Less than two seconds later, the fish disappeared down Ed’s gullet.

It must have been tasty, even when swallowed mostly whole, because Ed went after Parker’s second fish as he was reeling it in. Parker came home aggravated after losing both his fish and his favorite lure*, and Ed came home soaking wet, a bad sign on a fishing trip.

I’m trying to get past the fact that Ed consumed fish I would have gladly fried up as an after-dinner snack. A little cornmeal dusting, a cast iron skillet with a generous dollop of hot lard, and . . . man, Parker and I would have been one happy mother-son combo.

As it is, we’ll have to wait for another lucky fishin’ day.

With gratitude {for beautiful spring days, even when I’m denied their bounty},

Joan, who wants you to know that thanks to her friend Phoo-D, she learned how render lard and, yes, it’s totally worth it, not just for fried foods, but also for pie crust and biscuits

* Not to worry. Ed didn’t swallow the lure. It was lost after Ed jumped in the pond and snapped the fishing line in his desperate effort to steal Parker’s prize.

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