Diary of a Newbie Runner: No Man is an Island …

{By Ellery Sadler}

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This is how she looked in the beginning

Everyone needs a companion, someone to share experiences with, to do things with, to be with. As the saying goes ‘No man is an island.’

But after trying to run with our family dog, I found out something. I am a running island.

One morning I decided to take our dog, a gigantic three-year-old golden retriever puppy, on a run with me. I thought this would be a great idea, I mean, I see people running with their dogs all the time and it always looks so relaxing and enjoyable. Why not me?

Because our dog, Tootie (short for Toot Sweet, like from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang), is terrified of everything. She is especially scared of dogs.

I snapped on her leash and we headed down to the beach for an easy, thirty minute run. Or so I thought.

First, a spunky black lab came charging at us, causing Tootie to cower in fear at my side. The black lab’s owner nodded and passed us, trying not to stare at my obviously scared dog. I pasted on a smile and pretended like everything was normal. After they left, I started to run. Ok, so far so good. Dog running at my heels, waves lapping at the shore, sun beating down on me and music blaring. This was seeming like a good idea.

And then Tootie stopped. I mean just stopped, and sat in the sand staring at me with big, scared brown eyes. I looked around, expecting to see a shark swimming towards us, a gigantic rat scurrying into the rocks (we’ve seen one before), or some other threatening situation. Instead, I saw in the distance a person. Just a single person taking a walk on the beach a little ways in front of us. I pulled at the leash but she wouldn’t budge. And this run was now seeming like a bad idea.

And  this run became of game of stopping and starting, like red light green light … but not as fun. I had been teaching her to sit whenever a person passed, so she wouldn’t jump on them and would look like a nice well-behaved dog. Well, apparently she was taught her too well. Every time a person came even remotely near us or was even just barely in sight, she sat. And would not budge.

I called, I pleaded, I yanked, I pulled, but she would not move. This was seeming like a really bad idea.

Finally the last person was gone. Then Tootie stood up and began trotting after me like everything was fine.

Ok …. I thought, we’ll give this a try. We headed down the beach towards the point, and were about to round the point when I saw a fisherman standing by the waters edge. Tootie saw him too. And sat.

I knew by now that pulling and pleaded was useless, so I turned around and headed back down the beach in the direction we had come from. This was fine with Tootie, as long as we were away from any people or dogs, she was ok.

We passed a dead goose and at least a dozen dead jellyfish but no people. The only way to get that dog to move was if we were alone on the beach.

So instead of running along the stretching miles of white sand, I ran back and forth on our tiny strip of people-less beach about as long and wide as a postage stamp, making five minute laps, dragging my reluctant dog behind me.

If ever a person or dog or any living creature (except for birds, she doesn’t mind birds) was near, she would sit and not move. And then she would jump and run as fast as she could, dragging me behind her. And then stop again as quickly as she started. My run had more stoping and sitting than movement. Hey, maybe that isn’t all bad …

I have now decided that I am an island. I do not run with dogs, and when running with other people, I prefer to be silent. (Unless I’m in the slightest bit of pain of course.)

Maybe no man is an island, but I am a girl. And a running island.

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And this is why

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