Dan Naden

Wake up, the dog’s ready to run

When the alarm sounds, it might as well be a starting gun.

As I stumble down the stairs, my knees creak as if to say, “Are you serious? Not again; isn’t it too early?”

As I approach her cage, she’s in the ready position.

Mouth open; tongue wagging; a faint smile appears.

We exit the house and grimace as a harsh winter chill splashes across our faces. This isn’t quite Minnesota, but this particular Texas morning toughens the skin.

Sometimes I am the puller; most of the time, I get pulled.
Sometimes I am the puller; most of the time, I get pulled.

We press onward – four feet hit the ground in melodic fashion, breaking the morning’s quiet cold. My feet shuffle awkwardly; I’ve not yet found my center. The dog’s in full stride while my legs feel as if they are blocks of wood.

Another morning jog begins; dog and man drifting into the distant darkness. We only see a few cars; they briefly paint our path with their incandescent headlights.

My knees and joints take 5 minutes to get accumulated, but Ruby, our athletic Labrador, strides fully, chasing a scent; the malevolent remnants of skunk or the markings of a coyote on the lookout for an early morning snack.

With a few hundred strides behind us, we run in unison. Ruby knows the twists and turns; she guides me as we appear under the faint hiss of a streetlight.

This won’t be our last run, although she sprints for home as if this were life’s sole purpose, a final push to define the day ahead.

At run’s end, I gasp for breath while she sneaks a furtive glance at me; her countenance saying, “Is that all you’ve got?”

Until next time,

Dan Naden

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