I am on a mission. Before the end of the year, I am going to turn Rambo into a runner. That is my mission.
Pretty simple and straightforward, right? Let me explain.
Rambo is a walker. He’s used to a brisk morning stroll on the weekdays. Brisk enough to get his heart beating a little faster than normal but leisurely enough so that he can smell the wildflowers. Long enough to get out of the house to smell the fresh air but not so long that he would miss his next meal. Early enough in the day to sometimes beat the sunrise but perfectly timed so that the rest of the day can be spent doing other, more important things.
Important things like lounging around on the couch, chasing after one of the three cats, and barking at the mailman.
Yes, Rambo is a dog. He’s a four-year-old mutt with hemophilia. Had he not been diagnosed with hemophilia when he was a puppy, he probably would have been running with me right from the start. But I always worried that he might cut his paws on broken glass or sharp plastic fragments or whatever other pieces of trash there might be on the sidewalks and roads. It was easier to leave him at home than to worry about him getting hurt while we were running.
But after his second birthday, we were able to relax and stop worrying so much about him getting cut or scratched or starting to bleed internally again. So he began joining my parents for their weekday morning walks, which he thoroughly enjoys. He knows when it’s time for the morning walk and is as excited for the walk as he is to go for a ride in the car. He has his shearling walking jacket for the fall and winter walks and his windbreaker for the spring walks. He has his favorite fence posts and lamps to lift his leg on and he has learned not to just squat in the middle of a crosswalk to do number two.
With all that, why would I disrupt his routine? I’d like to say it’s solely because he’s become a little roly-poly since my parents don’t walk as fast as they used to walk – my mom had a partial hip replacement last July and my dad’s waiting to be called for knee surgery. But that wouldn’t be the whole truth.
Yes, Rambo has become a little rounder these past nine months but he’s still healthy and able to play for hours on end. My reason for wanting to turn Rambo into a runner is mostly selfish. Taking Rambo for a run makes it easier for me to want to run outside instead of on the treadmill. Since I’m a big treadmill fan, I truly need all the motivation I can get to encourage me to run outside.
Results so far have been mixed. He loves going out with me after work but he’s not used to trotting along for 20 minutes at a time. I have to keep an ongoing stream of encouragements and blandishments so that he doesn’t slow to a walk. My running pace is slower because of him, which is incredibly funny to me because I am a slow runner. The last time we ran, I felt like I was dragging him the whole time and that he only picked up the pace once we came within sight of the house.
I haven’t given up yet because I have a feeling that once Rambo finds his running legs, he’ll be pulling me along.