My Favourite Running Buddies

I have two running buddies – yup two, and they are the best running buddies that a girl could ask for.  Meet Jax (the blond one) and Naava (pronounced “Nay-va” – the black one):

Photo by Kathy Lovell - click to link to her Facebook page

We have absolutely no idea what kind of dog Jax is.  My brother Ryan brought him home as a two month old puppy about six years ago, after a May long weekend camping with his buddies in Saskatchewan.  Two puppies were wandering around the campsites scavenging for food after their mother had been hit by a car, so Ryan and his friends fed them for the weekend.  A family from another camp site took the other puppy, and when Jax just sat there staring at him as Ryan packed up his campsite, Ry decided that he couldn’t just leave him there.  He brought him home, and all of a sudden I had a dog.  A good dog, who never wanted to leave my side.

Naava came into my life only a few months after my husband, Rob did.  I had been looking for another dog as a playmate for the then 1 1/2 year old Jax.  I contacted Terra at PARS in High Prairie (where I was living at the time), and took Jax to meet her.  I told her about our lifestyle, and about what kind of dog I was looking for, and then toured her facility meeting a bunch of dogs.  None of them seemed right for us, but Terra promised to keep her eyes open.  About a month later, she called me up saying “I think I’ve found your dog.”  I went out to meet “Peanut,” who was your typical prairie dog: a Border Collie crossed with who knows what, about two years old.  They knew she had already had at least one litter of puppies, and she had been picked up by the Grande Prairie Peace River SPCA (Thanks Terra for the correction!) as an emaciated dog who had been surviving by eating a rotting carcass in a ditch.  She was really skinny when I met her for the first time (even though she’d already been getting food and medical care from the SPCA for about a month) and had an injured front paw, but she loved me with her whole being, even though I was a complete stranger.  I couldn’t help but love her back, so I brought her home to meet Jax, and gave her a brand new name – it means “beautiful,” and she is.

It didn’t go well at first.  She was injured and scared and wanted nothing to do with Jax, who was so excited to have another dog around that he just wanted to play.  It took a few days for her to come around, but they eventually became the best of friends, and now they are inseparable.  I can’t even take one of them to the vet without the other one freaking out; I just load them both into the vehicle if either one of them needs to go anywhere.

Jax and Naava are good dogs, well, at least they are good dogs most of the time.  They perform simple commands when we tell them to, lie down while we are preparing and eating food, come when they are called, and ring a little bell when they have to go out to do their business.  They do jump over our fence occasionally to play with other neighbourhood dogs (or eat the food left out by the owners of the poor little dog who is always chained up outside and wearing a bark collar – I feel so sad for him!), but when I call and go after them, they come back almost immediately.  I guess they did chase a little terrier around the neighbourhood for a couple of minutes about a month ago, but in their defence, that little terrier is always running around the neighbourhood, nips at Jax’ heels when we run by, and had been in our yard taunting Jax and Naava in their dog run only a few minutes before hand.  That was my bad.  I should have waited until I knew the pesky dog was gone before letting them out of their run.  Instead, I came home, shooed the dog away (or at least I thought I did), and then let my dogs out.  The terrier was apparently still in my front yard, and Jax was over the fence before I even had time to say his name.  Naava, who loves her brother very much, followed immediately.  Whoops.

I didn’t lie and tell you that they are always good because I am trying to make a point:  they are always on their best behaviour when we run regularly.  During those two months where I was at the peak of my back/leg pain and wasn’t able to run at all, Jax and Naava wanted to explore our neighbourhood A LOT more often.  They were still getting walks, but I was walking very slowly, and I know they weren’t burning the energy that they needed to.  When we run regularly, they are angels; it doesn’t matter if the poor chained up dog with the bark collar has a full bowl of food only two houses away – they don’t jump the fence to go there; they are content to play in the yard and lounge around the living room.  They already burned off the excess energy on our run, and don’t need to explore the neighbourhood.

Jax and Naava are always excited to go for a run; they don’t care if it’s cold, or raining, or really early in the morning.  Motivation is not a problem for these two, in fact, they are pretty much the greatest motivation for me.  Forget wedding dresses, bikinis and high school reunions – aside from running to feel good for me, I run because my dogs need the exercise.  If you are a dog person, have the time/energy/lifestyle to adopt a rescue (or even a purebred if you really feel the need – though I advocate for rescues always!), and are – or want to be – a runner, then get down to your local shelter and adopt a running buddy or two.  I promise you that your new running buddy will be all the motivation you will need to get your butt out of bed or off the couch each day.  Your new running buddy will enhance your life in a myriad of other ways as well, and if you decide to go the rescue route, you will be saving a dog’s life too!  How can that NOT give you the motivation to run?