When it comes to running, I fly solo. It’s always been that way. Whenever I run with a friend, or, god forbid, my fiancé, I inevitably end up annoying said partner over my inclination to be at least one step ahead, unwittingly lengthening my stride or quickening my pace. I’d be completely oblivious to it if my fiancé didn’t consistently point it out to me, stopping mid-run to stare heatedly at the back of my skull, willing me to stop. It’s taken me years to accept, but I’m just downright competitive: I like to be the one in charge, the leader, the one others look to as an example. Others might view this as a healthy drive for competition, but to most that run with me, it’s more frustration than fun (“it sucks,” says my fiancé). Plus, I’m a silent runner. All this chit-chat on the run, who needs that? My solution for running companionship? Meet Eva, my dog.
Half German Shorthaired Pointer, half Labrador Retriever, Eva is all lean muscle and legs. We adopted her at 6 weeks of age, and already I was itching to take her absurdly large puppy paws on runs far beyond her means. I’ll admit my desire for a running partner played a large part in me wanting a dog. Right around the time I turned 24, the idea of running alone at night, on dark streets that invited only slightly theatrical visions of being chased by masked robbers, suddenly became less appealing. I loved the idea of having a constant buddy on the road, especially a furry one (not counting when the fiance’s face turns into a mustache jamboree).
I took her on her first solid run at 8 months of age, letting her off-leash at a nearby open space preserve with 140 acres of trails, and little miss chocolate lightning ran double the mileage I did, backtracking and flushing out birds for 3 hours. Forget talking – watching her run through open fields doing her happy tongue dance was all the distraction and motivation I needed, and it still is. When Eva and I run, we never compete… we simply run for the sheer love of running. Plus, let’s be frank. I could never compete with her. That would defy the laws of physics.
Just like any athlete, Eva gets fully decked out for her runs. She wears a red harness and reflective leash, and for nighttime romps, she sports a killer LED collar that glows like a red halo in the darkness. Vibram-soled booties for rough running terrain? Trail pack that carries her food and water? Check and check. Sure, it might be overkill in some circles, but the more equipped she is, the more willing I am to go longer and farther. The way I see it, where I go, Eva goes, and where Eva goes, I go. We both live for keeping each other wild at heart.
Besides, Eva knows when to stop. Somebody needs to keep me in check.