Watching the Deer

He stares off
towards the sunset 
eyeing the view
of the deer. 

He yearns to bound,
an anxious whimper
escapes his throat; then
a snort. 

He tugs—
                   the leash—
                                        tight. 

A Deer whistles,
bouncing through the 
thick brush
into the edge of the woods. 

Others follow. 

He watches, never tiring,
the deer—perked ears,
Curious eyes
staring off towards the sunset. 

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Dog Home (part 3)

Days spread into weeks, and my mother would often sit or lay talking to Sam. Passing the time talking about their past and reminiscing on happier times. When they were taken out to run in the fenced in area in the back they’d run off together playfully biting at one another’s necks. Then when they were done they’d stretch out in the grass admiring the new smells in the air and the clashing of squirrels running in the nearby woods. One day, Sam asked my mother how she came to call the streets her home.

“It all started with my mother,” she started. “My mom, she was what humans called a purebred. She had a lineage as far as the eye could see is what she always told me. Then one day, she got out and took off for a few days. When she came back, the humans didn’t know she was carrying four extras with her.

“Well fast forward, the humans were disgusted with ‘mutts’ as they called me and my brother and sisters. They tried selling us, my sisters Mitzy and Hiccup were found a home. My brother Chubby and I were put in a brown box that smelt like…like rotten food. The humans took us somewhere, I remember the drive was bumpy and long. I don’t know where we were left at, but I remember it being cold. We both huddled together in a corner of the box. Scary things kept making noises…”

“C’mon doggies!” The lady with the brown hair, who my mother came to know as Rachel, called out.
“Well…we best be getting back inside.” Sam’s joints cracked as he got up. They both jogged towards Rachel. She put a collar on Sam and then me and led them inside to their boxed imprisonments.

As soon as the metal cage door closed them in, they waited patiently for her to take her other two dogs out and let them enjoy their momentary freedom.

“So, tell me the rest of your story,” Sam whimpered.

“Well…there were so many scary noises we started whining. Eventually we did fall asleep, and awoke the next morning to birds singing. We huddled for awhile, and then I clambered my way out of the box. Chubby stayed behind because he was afraid. I told him I wasn’t going to stay here and that we needed to find food. He cried some more and stayed inside. I left in search of food. There were trees everywhere, but in the middle of them was an old road ridden with cracks. I followed it down for awhile, it seemed like forever.

 

“My paws were starting to hurt, but then I saw a house. And in front of that house was a porch and on that porch was a bowl of some sort of food. I ate at it hungrily and then felt ashamed that Chubby wasn’t there. So I ran all the way back to the box that smelled like rotten food, and barked at Chubby to come and get some food. He struggled to get out, but did manage to get out. We walked back down to the house and showed him the bowl. He happily scarfed the rest of it down. We decided to go under the porch where it seemed safe, and there we nested. We heard a voice, singing and humming to some sort of music that faintly floated in the air. ‘Oh my, the cats were hungry today,’ she said in a surprised voice. We continued to stay under the porch. Every morning that lady poured food into the bowl, and every morning when we were sure it was safe we would hustle to the food dish and eat it all.

 

“Then one day, the human lady caught us. She put out some food and when we stepped on the porch and started eating the food she rushed out the door letting it slam. ‘Now I know why the food was always gone. You git dogs! Scram! This ain’t for you!’ she chased us off. We yipped all the way into the woods down the street. After awhile we did go back to sleep under the porch, and the next day she put more food out. We waited a long time before making our way to the food bowl. When I went down to eat, I noticed it smelt funny. There was a liquid mixed with the food. I didn’t want to eat it, and told Chubby we shouldn’t eat it. But he chose to anyways.” Mother looked down at this moment; a deep sorrow filled her stomach. Sam sensed what was about to come.

 

“It wasn’t good food was it?”

Mother looked at him, “No. Whatever that liquid was, it killed Chubby. He died that night, as I lay huddled next to him. He moaned from agony and I could only comfort him by nudging him, until at last when morning came his body was cold and stiff. That’s when I decided to move away. I didn’t like leaving him there, but I had no choice.”

 

Sam sat in silence, taking it all in.

 

“What about you, Sam? Where did you come from?”
Sam pricked his ears forward, “I was born a stray, wandering the streets. I was adopted once, and for a year I was loved unconditionally, but then the humans were always gone and constantly fighting with each other, so they gave me up. I went to a place similar to this one, and I was adopted again by a man who lived by himself. A small child, named David, would visit every once-in-awhile and refer to him as ‘Grandpa’ and I was happy with him for years. I’d sit at his feet while he sat and read book after book after book. Sometimes he wrote stories about me.  Then all of a sudden he couldn’t keep me, and gave me to someone else, who was not a nice man. He hit me a lot, and would hardly feed me. He kept me tied up outside, and my chain never offered me freedom. Then all of a sudden I’m being taken away and now I’m here. Talking to you.”

 

As if on cue, Rachel was bringing back the other two dogs back causing a great ruckus between the other dogs that were going to be lead outside. After Rachel managed to get her next two dogs out, she came back with some food for Sam and my mother.

 

“Here you go Lizzy girl. I put some extra love in there for you.” My mother looked down at her food where a wet substance lay on top of her food. The first time any human gave her extravagant food without a secret death wish.

 

She scarfed it down happily.

Dog Home (part 2)

It seemed like it was only a short while later, and mother was startled awake by humans opening her box thing and sticking a wire around her neck again. She let out a yelp as she struggled to get away.

“No use in fighting little lady,” the man with blonde hair and dark eyes hissed. A lady beside him with brown hair pulled back in a pony tail was their watching the man pull on my mother. Once getting my mother out, the lady turned around towards a large building that looked new. The man followed handling my mother as she pulled every way she could.

Inside, the smell of dogs, cats, and urine circled around my mother’s nose. Fear had completely taken over her body. The man dragged mother through a door, and the overwhelming smell and sound of dogs and cats swiveled in the air creating a nauseating effect. Mother was overtaken with the desire to run and lunged back giving a big yank on the man’s arm. He was caught off guard, but nontheless managed to hold onto her.

“Her spot is over here,” a woman’s voice boomed. The man agitated by my mother’s fight pulled furiously and mother went flying forward a bit, and then was shoved through an open wire door. Off came the wire around her neck and snap went the door. She huddled in the corner not sure what to do. She could see another dog through the door across from her that was sitting by the door looking up at the man. His eyes full of sorrow as if he didn’t expect the man to look at him, which the man barely glanced in the dog’s direction. He slicked his hand over his thinning blonde hair that had messed up with the commotion of my mother.

The lady with the brown pony tail spoke in her booming voice, “Thanks, Ryan. I’m glad you were able to find her.”
“No problem,” he grumbled and dragged his feet back through the doors.
The lady turned to mother, “Hello little one? Let’s get you some food.”

And she walked away at a brisk pace, and returned within a few minutes with two bowls. One filled with water and one filled with a warm substance. The lady walked away, and mother barely tasted the food as she scarfed it down. She lapped at the water that tasted much better than the water that collected in puddles on the streets and sidewalks.

“Hello, what do they call you?” mother looked up at the dog across from her. She wasn’t expecting him to talk to her.
“I don’t know…my mother always called me Paws when I was little. Do you think that’s what the humans will call me?”“I do not think so. They call me Sam. I am a black lab. What are you?”
“I think I am a hound of some sort. My mother said she was a beagle and could be traced back to hunting dogs in Ingleland or someplace.”
“Why how many summers have passed in your time?” Sam tilted his head.
“I think a few. Maybe five.” She struggled to remember that far back, everything between the day she was left out to the last few months were only memorable in bits and pieces, “What about you,” she asks curiously.
“Too many to count. I’ve been here since winter.”
“How long will you be here?”
Sam looked down, a deep sorrow glazed over his eyes, “I’m not sure. I haven’t seen many dogs here as long as me. My friend Harry who was in your spot was taken out a couple weeks ago. There is Lacy on the other side of you there she just got here a month ago I think,” mother then realized that the solid metal wall was stopping her from seeing the dog next to her, it felt cold to her nose.
“See a human never came to make Harry theirs so the girl who brought you food took him away and never brought Harry back. I think they send dogs and the cats to another place to live. I don’t know.”

Suddenly my mother was filled with a fear, what if she gets sent to another place to be, she was already afraid of possibly losing Sam, a dog who has been nicer towards her in the last few minutes than any dog since she called the streets her home.

“Well, my bones hurt and I’m tired. I want to sleep a little bit,” Sam stretched himself to a laying position and let out a little squeak as he yawned.

My mother overcome with exhaustion herself, slunk to the back corner of her cage, circled around in the spot, and curled into a little ball. She let out a big sigh before closing her eyes and drifting off to a world of woods, rabbits, and the sun shining through the leaves.

Yearning for the Burning

Tonight I finally got to go for a run after a month of just working. Oh man did it burn at the same time that it felt amazing. Chief seemed to crave it as much as I did. But considering I haven’t even been taking the dogs for a walk I’m sure he’s missed being out and about too. We ran. Pretty hard.

As I was running I was reflecting on the past month of work. I’ve had many ups and a few downs but in general, I’ve had a good month. It’s been a long month yet the time has gone by so fast I can’t believe it’s almost mid August. One of my favorite things has been getting to know some of my supervisors and learning with my mentors on how to handle given situations. I’ve also enjoyed building friendships with a few of my coworkers and getting to know them.

When I got to the halfway point I stopped for a bit to gaze at their field and how it’s slowly being overtaken by pine trees and wild raspberries.

“Ah Chief. Doesn’t it feel good? That burning sensation?” he wagged his tail and then trotted ahead and looked back as if to tell me to hurry up. So I lugged myself forward to head home.

I didn’t know that I would yearn for the burning sensation until I felt it again. And now, I feel invincible again. Tired and ready to sleep 8 days, but yet invincible. And as I enjoy my day off tomorrow, I’ll re-eneegize myself, drink some coffee, and prepare myself to finish this summer strong. Both work-wise and running-wise. Until then, peace. ✌🏻️ #fire🔥 #burning #yearning

One Hot Run

It’s hot out. I feel the sun rays creep on the back of my neck as I head for the trail covered in a forested shade. I look at my phone and click on my Nike+ app, and press “start run.” Breathe in. Get ready. “Chief!” And we start our third summer run.

IMG_1915Chief does his usual habits where he runs ahead and sniffs around in the woods before he comes back to the trail to give me that look that says, “Oh c’mon, Pokey” and then he turns around and heads off. “Thanks, you box of cheese” I think to myself (I call my dog random food names sometimes, don’t judge).

As we come to the field, I slow down to a walk, and we can gaze at all of the beauty before us. So many pretty yellow flowers, and long green grass that often tries to trip me. Chief makes a quick pit stop to mark his territory before he trots forward and pounces in the yellow flowers.

I managed to run a total of half mile on the run, not all in one stride. As we came to the halfway point, I stopped to catch my breath, and let Chief sniff around in the woods. I gaze at the two big Oak trees that once held a tree stand years and years ago. It was built before I was born and deteriorated over time until about 5 years ago it completely crumbled; now only the few steps nailed in the tree remain.

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Thunder can be heard grumbling in the north as dark gray-blue clouds are swiftly overtaking the blue and sunny skies.

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“Storm’s coming in faster than I thought, Chief.” He turns his head to me. I whistle. He comes. I walk the majority of this field because the grass is very tall and thick. And this field is mostly uphill until it reaches a path through a small wooded section and then it comes to the first field (the one where Chief was pouncing in the yellow flowers).

IMG_1944It’s so weird to see dark clouds to the north, and blue skies in the south. But that’s how God made nature. Unpredictable but amazing.

As Chief and I made it back through the first field, and we enter the main trail back to the house, I decide to run nonstop for as long as I could. At this point, we’re both hot, I’m sticky with sweat, and Chief isn’t as energetic as he was in the beginning, but we both have a sweet victory in mind. He usually sticks closer to my side at this point in our run, which makes it my favorite part, because now Chief is going the same pace as me and it doesn’t make me feel that slow. Our breathing is even. His paws matching my feet. When I make it halfway down the path, I come to a stop (yes, again!). Chief slows as well.

It gets me thinking about how we have such a partnership. As Forest Gump said, “We’re like peas and carrots” (yes, ironic I use a Forest Gump quote and not the “Run, Forest, run” one either). But Chief and I are really like peas and carrots. We go together so perfectly, that if there is only one of us it feels a little off balance. We aren’t meant to be without each other   yes he is my best and most precious friend that I could ask for. He listens to me (most of the time), and all I have to do is feed him and give him water and he will love me unconditionally. And he helped through my troubled teen years.

God didn’t just bless me with a dog, he blessed me with a great running partner and a lifelong companion.

IMG_1919
We’ve lost some weight…
Chief: 1.8 pounds
Me: 2.3 pounds

Four Paws and Two Feet: Running with a Victory in Mind

It was run number two today. It wasn’t terrible, but still, it was breathtaking    literally.

DSCF4709My dog has a habit, that when he sees me slip on a pair of shoes, he will start whining and pacing from me to the door and back to me. Then when I grab his leash, he will divebomb onto me, and nearly knock me over (he is, after all 58.2 pounds). My other two dogs, a big German Shepard and a Five-pound Yorkie, also get very antsy and start whining and getting excited at the prospect of going out. It does break my heart a little when I tell them to go lay down, but running with more than one dog is very difficult*…and they can’t be trusted off leashes (especially Buddy, the German Shepard, he will take off for hours and come back smelling like the pond). Buddy will slump back as if to say, “It’s not fair that Chief can go but I can’t.” The little Yorkie thinks she’s sneaky and will go to the side where she doesn’t think I can’t see her so that she can potentially take off (don’t worry, I make it up to the other dogs, but taking them for a walk on the days I don’t run).

As I managed to get Chief out the door and no other dogs sneaking out, I turned on my phone to the Nike+ app to track my run.

“Ahh, what a wonderful evening for a run.” Chief turns around and does a hop as if to respond, “Will you hurry up! I want to go!”
“Okay okay. Will you keep your tail on.” Yes. I know. I talk to my dog. I’m not the ONLY one, right?

We get to the starting point. Ready? About as ready as I’ll ever be. Set! Ugh…do I even enjoy running? Go! Pace. Breathe. Run. Keep going.

I managed to keep an even pace for about twice the length I did on our first run (woot!). Chief was helping with that since he was pulling me. When I did stop, I let him off the leash. (Chief is the only one that will actually come back when called…as long as no other dogs are by nearby). He immediately set off to sniff out any new scents.

In that moment, as we were out in the fields, it took me back to when I was a teen and I could run this trail nonstop. The entire trail. Granted it’s only about a mile length start-t0-finish. The memories of how I ran or walked these trails and the deer paths through the woods every day. I knew the woods better than my own bedroom. If I wasn’t running or walking, sometimes I could be found reading under my favorite Pine Tree tucked away from any path. More often than not, I’d be running the path with my horse Savory, venting to her about all my troubles with school or work (I talk to animals a lot). If these trails could talk, they would say a lot.

Throughout our adventure, we saw several deer, and heard numerous squirrels chattering and birds chirping. When we neared the end of it all, I realized just how fortunate Chief and I are.

Chief lives a very carefree life: he has food and unconditional love.

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Chief gets a lot of unconditional love from both my brother and I: He likes giving it back!

Despite all of his wrongdoings, I can never stay mad at him. His face brightens my day. He has a comfy bed to sleep on, and he is given the necessary vaccinations to keep him healthy. And all he does is rely on me (or my mom) to feed him and take care of him. He probably doesn’t worry about whether he’ll get food in his bowl  or not, or if he’ll get left outside all night.

My life is testing me: I’m a recent college graduate, with no luck in finding a decent job. Not only decent in pay, but decent in allowing me the one day of the week I need off    Sunday. But despite all of this, I have a bed I can sleep on, I have a family that loves me, and I have the companionship of a dog. Sometimes I question why things don’t work out in my favor, but I’m trying to focus on letting God work it out for me. I’m focusing on trying to live carefree life like Chief. Chief has a master that will take care of him, much like I have a God that will take care of me.

We have four paws, two feet, and one mission: strive to be successful in all of our runs by always running with the victory in mind. 

 

*side note: I wrote a blog about a year ago about running with two dogs. Read: Running Like a Winner

Once a Thought, Twice a Memory

I first thought about suicide, momentarily, at the age of 15.

I wasn’t depressed. Well maybe if I went to the doctor, based on my symptoms, I would have been diagnosed with a slight case of depression. But I didn’t think of myself as depressed. I would have said that I was more…hateful. I hated the man who lived with my mom    he was a jerk. I  hated myself because I let his jerkness get to me.

So the question is, why did I think about suicide? It first popped into my head as I was crying in my pillow after I had gotten yelled at. My dog had come into my room, jumped on my bed, and began nudging me. I turned and looked at him and said in between sobs, “I can’t do this anymore, Chief. I can’t deal with him.“Chief, as if understanding exactly my thoughts, squished himself practically onto me and moved his nose underneath my chin. He was, and still is today, my best friend.

I wanted so badly to just be away from this place. I couldn’t run away, because I wouldn’t get far. And even if I did manage to get far, how would I survive? No money. No car. No job. Suicide seemed like the best thing for me. As Chief nudged me however, I knew that leaving him behind would be unfair. Even if he was just a dog, he cared about me, and I couldn’t hurt someone who cared about me.


It wasn’t until years later, when I was in my first year of college that suicide found it’s way back into my thoughts. I don’t even know how it came up as a thought. It was just…there. It was stressful, my first year. I had no roommate. Well, I did, however she lived with her boyfriend 99% of the time. I was lonely. I had only a few people I talked to. Only one of which was mostly on a daily basis. I longed to be back in high school, where at least I had my girls.

I missed my dog more than anything. I missed the feeling of his body laying next to my legs and keeping them warm. I missed his cold, wet nose nudging me after I hit snooze on my alarm. I mostly missed his silly personality and how it was almost like he purposely tried to make me laugh. He ran with me on the trails.

It was the first time my ex and I started having issues. We started fighting. And we both were struggling financially. Our quality time started slipping. I had no idea what to do, because I didn’t know how to be in a relationship. He was my first serious guy I dated.

I was struggling spiritually as well. I was starting to question my beliefs. Wondering what my purpose was (don’t all Christians struggle with this at least once). I felt like my prayers weren’t being answered. months or even a year or two later I discovered that every prayer of mine was answered. Not necessarily how I wanted them to be, but much better than I expected.

Suicide seemed like a generous way to go. But one day I was having lunch and talking to a friend, and the subject of suicide came up.She mentioned how her friend’s brother took his own life, and how it affected her    someone not even that close to the guy. She said that it tore her up to see her friend crying. To see that her friend had died inside. She hated it. I never mentioned to her that I had thought about ending my life. but I knew that was God’s way of telling me my thoughts were stupid.

I can’t say I never thought about suicide in the years to follow from that moment. I struggle with the question of, “What if…?” But I can say that I obviously haven’t taken my life. I started letting the light that I had buried within me take over the darkness I had succumb to. My thoughts were overpowered with thoughts of peace and love from Him. He saved me, by using a friend who was there. Not once, but twice.

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7