Maiden voyage

Autumn Shades Elsa

Elsa at only 3.5 months old with her Dad.  His new running partner but not for many more months.

Yesterday was a big day; it was kick off day to years of a great running relationship.  Although the day was a bittersweet one, celebratory for Elsa in her new partnership with Dad but a day marking the end of years of running for Luke and his Dad.  Luke has been retired from running for about a year; it was a very difficult thing for Steve (my husband) to do.  The cutting back process was much more mentally challenging than physical.  The idea of not taking Luke out for a jog was just not an option so it was a very, very slow process to where we are today.

First thing to be cut out of Luke's runs were hills.  The hills were too hard on his back legs and even though he could do it, he was very sore later that night.  So running on flats, then only running occasionally to walking, then less walking to small walks.  When Luke could not run any longer my husband said to me "I'm going to need a new running partner."  Even though he had a tough time thinking this let alone saying it.  He loved jogging but not alone, it's not the same running without a dog.  He really enjoyed jogging with a canine partner.

It seems like it was just yesterday that Tilley had gone through the same cut back until finally ending the whole jogging thing completely.  It is a sad and difficult thing to do.  They quickly learn to love the outing as much as we do and when you have to leave and shut the door behind you looking at those wondering eyes, it can be almost too much to bare.  But we do what me must and these type of things must be done with your head and not your heart.

So it had been Luke and Tilley and then just Luke for sometime before Elsa entered the picture.  Knowing full well that Elsa could not be a jogging partner for months it was pretty much perfect timing to slowly wean Luke out.  His walks have gotten shorter and more of a sniff fest, he is 11.5 years old and showing it now.  Yesterday was the big day, and as exciting as it was it was also a strategic moment.  Steve was still not ready to hook up Elsa and walk out of the house without Luke so he took Luke out and Elsa and I went in my car.  Luke went for his normal walk with Dad and then we met up in the park and switched.

I told Steve to be careful and not to break an arm as they turned to leave. It takes a while for running teams to get in sync with each other, tripping is common.  As they head in the opposite direction Luke looked back and my heart ached for him.  I tried to make it fun by giving lots of treats and going along a path that he loves to sniff on.  I looked over my shoulder several times and saw Elsa doing the same, she kept looking back.  This was the very first time she'd gone off alone without Mom, another tough moment for me.

I was anxious to hear how it went when they returned.  "So, so how did it go?"  Elsa did great, she made a few instant stops which tweaked Steve's back a bit and dove out only once to say hi to another dog.  Other than that she had done amazingly well.  "I know she's going to be great," Steve said about his new running partner.  How could she not be great, she is one of the most athletic dogs that I know.  I would have to even go so far as to say "a match made in heaven."

The ride home had been difficult for her, once in the car and not running; the change of everything seemed to hit her.  Steve said that she was upset, wouldn't settle.  She seemed to be looking for me and was not comfortable in the car.  She'd driven across the country in this car so it was not the car but the situation itself.  This only meant that the change that had begun was a good one.  More time spent with Dad to build and grow their relationship was needed.  Time standing on her own four feet away from Luke was also good.

The last several months of our lives have seen great change and daily activities were done differently due to all the change.  This latest change like I said is bitter sweet but in the long run will a win win for all involved.