I have been running on Tuesdays and Thursdays forever. Ok, just the past 2 years or so. Someday, I will be able to say forever and it will be true! Anyway, back to the story…
Every Tuesday & Thursday, I would see a man and his little brown dog running on the trail. Sometimes we would be going in same direction but usually we would be running in opposite directions. The little brown dog was never on the leash when I met them on the trail and he would run back and forth chasing rabbits or stopping to smell stuff. Normal dog stuff. When I would go running by him, he would often run with me a little. I’d look down and see him smiling up at me as if to say “Hey, this is fun!”
Now, I usually do tempo runs on Tuesdays or Thursdays and sometimes fartleks. So there would be days when I would be flying down the trail (at least in my head) and then this little dog would go zipping by me and look over his shoulder at me and I could swear he was encouraging me to run faster. I saw the challenge in those big brown eyes! I would laugh at how effortless he ran and how hard I was working and couldn't keep up with him. He'd definitely put me in my place but yeah, I would pick it up a little after seeing him.
But then a few months ago, I stopped seeing them. No dog and no owner. Then a couple months ago, I started seeing the owner but not the dog. I would wave to the owner or say good morning but I didn't ask him about his dog. I almost didn't want to know why he wasn't running with him anymore.
Well, today I saw the little brown dog out with his mom. Not where I usually see him. But he was running around checking things out and since it was dark, I didn't recognize him til he was a few feet from me. Then I saw that he was running with just 3 legs. He'd lost one! But he was still grinning and I think he was happy to see me. :)
I asked his mom what had happened and she said they'd found a cancerous tumor in his front leg and they'd had to remove it two months ago. I told her I was glad to see he was out and about and she laughed. Probably wondered how I knew her dog! But she was also probably laughing because I don't think that little dog knew he shouldn't be running and having fun. It's just what he does and who he is. He’s a dog. He runs. He enjoys a little freedom. He doesn't know anything else. So he has no limits. Missing a leg is not going to stop him from doing what he does best: being a happy dog.
I thought about him for the rest of my run. What would it be like to go thru life without putting limits on what you can do? To be so happy to just be and do what you love no matter what? I have to think it would be amazing.
Last week, I talked about how you might be influencing people you aren't even aware of. That little brown dog certainly gave me something to think about today and he'll never know.