A Boy and His Dog

Over the last couple of weeks my wife and came to a very difficult decision. One of our two dogs needed to find a new place to live. We’ve had one dog since the winter after we got married, we celebrated 11 years this summer. Our other dog we adopted around 3 years later. They were our kids until we had kids. Like a lot of families when human children arrive the animal children are required to take a back seat. One of the dogs has adjusted more easily than the other. I’m sure their breed mixes have something to do with that. The chow/lab mix has grown more and more displeased with his place on the totem pole as time has gone on. The lab/retriever mix continues to be as happy-go-lucky as always.

The final straw came recently as the chow/lab began to become more aggressive. Growling under his breath. The choice became clear. We couldn’t trust him around our boys (4 and almost 1 year old). Last week I drove with him to a local shelter and surrendered him over. I hope that he will have a chance to live his remaining time with a loving family (without smaller children – which seem to annoy him).

I’ve already witnessed the largest benefit to giving up one dog. Our remaining dog (the lab/retriever mix – Duke) loves the boys and loves to play. Before the weather turned colder this week I was able to take a walk with all 3 boys in the afternoon after their naps. D wanted to hold the leash. While initially a little uneasy, I knew that Duke would listen to me better than our other dog ever would have. We gave it a shot. D had the best time being able to walk Duke.

walkingduke

Seeing this just solidified to me that we made the right decision. While we made the decision for one reason, it’s clear now that the benefits will be much greater than if we continued on the way we had and my boys can go back to loving and living with the happiness that is a dog.

The Reason I Run

While I have a few stories that I could link and publish this week for another edition of Nerd News I feel that this week I need to go a little more free form with my post. If the mood strikes me I may toss that geekery together and post it, but not now.

A little more than 4 years ago I decided that I wanted to start running for exercise. I’ve never been a gym rat, I don’t have the time to commit to crossfit or lifting weights on a regular basis, but I needed to do something. I also chose running because I thought it might, initially, require the least monetary investment. I already owned athletic shorts, I had old t-shirts I could run in, if I bought a few pairs of socks and a new pair of dedicated running shoes, paired with a program (Couch to 5K) and its accompanying app on my phone I should be good to go. I also chose it because my wife and I were expecting our first child. I wanted to be able to get down on the floor, roll around, and run around the yard with my kids. Running, I thought, could be a gateway for better health and maybe in the future other exercise. So, I started the program.

I’d had problems with my knees since junior high, so I figured, take it slow and I’ll be fine. I was mistaken. My knees again brought pain and frustration. It wasn’t serious enough to go to the doctor, so I would just rest and once feeling better, I’d start again. The birth of D and the winter months sidelined me further. I got going again in the summer. I’d done some research, changed shoes, and started again. Again, before long I was sidelined, this time, my knees were fine, it was awful shin splints. Months of rest and a fresh start.

Before long, my wife gained an interest and we both began running again. She was my ultimate motivation to keep going. It was fun to be able to go out, pushing the stroller with D cruising along, both of us, spending time  together and exercising.

We have both gotten smarter and stronger in our running since those days. We have both finished a half marathon. She finished it a year before I could make the mileage. She would have run with me last year, but she was pregnant with our second son. Since F has arrived our running has been sporadic at best, but we usually get out individually about once or twice a week for runs of about 5K (3.1 miles).

In order to make running easier for us with 2 little boys we invested in a double jogging stroller. It was well worth it. But, getting out and running has still been difficult. As the weather begins to cool off we both hope to pick up the pace. Running in cooler weather is like running in a new body. The crisp fall air rushing past your face working to balance out a warm autumn sun on your face.

I am privileged enough to be able to be a stay-at-home dad during the day. One of my favorite perks is that if I wasn’t able to drum up motivation in the morning for a run, when the boys wake from afternoon naps, if time permits before my wife arrives home from work, we can squeeze in a run. Today was one of those days. While D was initially resistant, he warmed up quickly to the idea and we got ready to go.

As recently as this summer D has emulated his mother and I when it comes to running. He will put on our half marathon medals that hang on the fridge and run circles around the living room. When we go out for runs he will often start by running up and down the sidewalk then allow me to buckle him into the stroller. He will also grab out headphones and hold them to his ears while doing his “runs”. Like mommy and daddy, as he says. He has even requested and we purchased a headband so he can go on runs.

A few times in the last couple weeks when I go, he wants to run with me. Not sitting in the stroller with F. Okay. He runs on the sidewalk while I jog pushing the stroller against  the curb. His longest distance before today was 1/2 mile. Pretty awesome for 4 years old. Today he said he wanted to run. Sure. Off we go. I’ve run the same route so many times now I have a pretty good idea of the 1/2 mile markers. I thought  he would sputter and ask to sit around a 1/2 mile. Nope. He wanted a small drink from his water bottle and insisted on continuing on. We took a few short breaks for  a drink and to walk about 15-20 steps, but then he would continue to run. He went 2 MILES before he decided he wanted to ride!

When I first started running it was to help improve my own health. I never in my wildest dreams ever thought that our son would wish to imitate our love of running. Ever. Especially, so early. I smiled the whole time we were out today. As of today, my boys are the reason I run.