Without measurements, it’s hard to notice improvements. However, upon completing a long group training run before the first half marathon of the 2012 season I ran hard and realized I was the first female in the group to complete the 21 route. A stranger came up to me and said something that made my knees feel weak and my face turn 3 shades of red. He said those three words that every woman who runs dreams of hearing, “You are fast.”
This year, my running goal was to get a little faster. It’s strange that we have this insatiable ‘need for speed’.
Hank, one of our border collie/Australian shepherd crosses also had this crazy need for speed. Everything he did, he did with all his might. At the mere sight of his lead he went into a frantic jumping/whining frenzy, earning him the nick name ‘Jerry Springer’. Walking him required the upper body strength of Mr. Universe.
Hank was the first in the car. He was also the first out of the car. The first out the door and always the first in. He loved everyone, jumped on everything, licked anything, ate his dinner in lightning speed and had three favourite words as well: din-dins, walkies and cottage. He was truly joy in a fur casing.
Hank’s flamboyant personality wasn’t without its challenges. He barked too much, played too rough with baby rabbits (RIP), doves (why he left only the head I don’t know), porcupines (twice, which may say something about his IQ), and the skunk (luckily I was on vacation when that one occurred, leaving the rest of the family to deal with it). I wanted to put a sign on the gate to the backyard saying, “Warning Wildlife, Enter at Own Risk, Hank Lives Here”.
All the neighbours knew Hank for various, and not always pleasant reasons, but none so much as the family behind us who own the chocolate lab, Tucker. Hank learned how to jump the back 5 foot chain link fence. Actually, it was less jumping and more climbing. So, at his discretion, he would randomly jump the fence to play with his friend Tucker.
I was always yelling at him, “Hank, get back here.” Sometimes I would have to go get him. Then, he found another set of dogs in the next house and would jump our fence, then Tucker’s fence and thus began his life of crime.
I started to notice that he would jump the fence when Tucker wasn’t out as well. Raw hides, bones and toys became to spontaneous sprout in our back yard. Mr. Robber was waiting for when Tucker was inside to go pillage. This had to stop.
And, thus, the 6 foot wooden fence was built. Upon its completing, Hank looked at it long and hard. He backed up all the way to our house, then turned and ran at it with all his might. It was like watching a cartoon—or a car crash. You could see what was coming next but it was too late to do anything about it. He hit the fence about half way up with a splat and, plastered against the fence, slid down like Wiley Coyote in the Roadrunner. Unlike the porcupine incidents, he never tried again.
Hank’s need for speed was actually a natural outgrowth for his pursuit for joy. Joy overflowing personified, or caninified if you will.
We scattered some of Hank’s ashes at the cottage this week. It’s so quiet now. Kanoock, Hank’s brother, the one left behind, is more cultured and well behaved. There is no one to chastise or chase after.
What a lesson Hank was. Joy first. Everything else second. Do what you love with all your enthusiasm and might. Be in the moment. That was Hank.
It’s one week to the Ottawa Marathon. This will be the anniversary of my first marathon ever. Initially in the season I had a time goal but life has dealt my training partners and I various obstacles. Denise just had a new baby girl! Karen said good bye to her cat and recently hurt her back doing yard work. Last week Lyndsay’s ankle mysteriously swelled up. We lost Hank and it is supposed to be really hot next weekend—less than ideal conditions for obtaining a personal best time. Personal issues, loss, injury, and weather—all things we have little control over. Joy, however, is a decision.
Whatever this weekend holds, I choose joy.
2001 - 2012
Joy in a Fur Casing