Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Dogs, Grief, and Running

I miss my dog.

I had him for 12 and a half years. My house mate had an unspayed dog, and my neighborhood had a sneaky dog that was good at digging under fences. At the time this combination really ticked me off, but I did wind up with the best dog ever. His name was Grendel and he could be terrifying when strangers came around, but at the same time incredibly gentle and loyal with those he knew. He always instinctively looked to me for leadership on walks. When I started dating my wife, he had to come meet the new group. He really wanted to eat her cat, but looked to me for a cue. Once he understood that the cat was not for eating he never harassed the cat again. He and my wife's dog worked out an understanding, in the house her dog was the boss, in the yard he was the boss. He loved to sit out on top of his dog house. I would often sit out there with him.

He had a tumor in his mouth. It was becoming torturous for him to eat. I had to have him put down.

I buried him beneath a forsythia bush, my daughter says we will still be able to see him, only he will be flowers.

After I buried him I sat on his dog house and cried my eyes out.

Then I went in and got my wife's new dog and we went for a run.

There is something about running, I'm sure they have measured the effects of endorphins and other things on mood. I'm not really interested in the studies and the numbers, what is important to me is that I know, for me, running is great therapy.

We ran a nice easy run down the road. I thought about how much over the last 2 and a half years as I became a runner I wished I had been a runner when Grendel was younger. By the time I started running, Grendel's hips were bad. He would have loved to be a runner, he was a pit bull, greyhound mix. He would have run me into the ground. It would have been great.

The run sort of cleaned me out. It felt as if some of the grief was being expelled from my lungs and through my sweat. When I was done I felt a better.

I still miss my dog. Right now, I don't want a new dog, I want my old dog back. I know that sooner or later though, I'll be going to the Humane Society to look for a new running partner.