As I remembered all of the times I ran with Kelsy, both on actual searches, and in our fictional story, The Retrievers of Useless Bay, I thought about her various styles of running, and how her ears would flop. When she was on a scent trail, where the lost dog had traveled a long distance down a road or path, Kelsy would get into a groove, and the tips of her ears would bounce. I imagined her running along the trail with me like that.
For two months now, I have been keeping this blog of my life with dogs. In a way, I am creating my reality by being selective in what I remember. I’m not blogging about, 3 AM, I was asleep, 4 AM, I was also asleep...5 AM I had breakfast, cereal and soy milk. I’m writing down things I want to remember about working and living with my dogs. As I was thinking about the life I lived with Kelsy, I realized that I’m going to have so much more material to remember with Mu, Fozzie, and Tino. I’m taking more pictures and video than I used to, and keeping more records and spreadsheets about our work and play. At any moment, I could picture Kelsy clearly, as if she was sitting right in front of me, and I can imagine what she would do in a particular situation. Because Kelsy was a fictional character in a novel, who had the power to speak to the protagonist through a link to a chip in her brain, I can of the things that Kelsy might say, based on that story. It was nice to have her company as I ran through the woods.
I was thinking about how my running was progressing, or not progressing, and how I really needed to avoid injury to keep working out and not have to take time off. I was concentrating on my stride, running on my muscles instead of my joints. By that I meant that I was keeping my legs springy, not slamming into the ground, but catching the ground with my feet and then throwing it back out behind me. It’s like trying to catch a football. If you just hold your hands out, the football is just going to bounce off your hands. I know from experience. You need to pull your hands in as you make contact with the ball. I have had knee problems in the past, so I definitely want to keep my knees healthy as I increase my weekly mileage and get in shape.
In general, in life, we can see the footballs coming, so we can have soft hands, and catch the ball instead of hurting our hands and dropping the ball. Most of the things that annoy me or set me back are predictable. Instead of getting angry about things that go wrong, I can predict the troubles I’m going to have, and be ready to soften the blow. For example, I know it is likely that there will come a day in the future when all of my great dogs will be gone, and I will have only memories of our time together. Instead of standing flat footed and letting that horrific future crush me, we can live the hell out of life now and have an overflowing of memories later, on the other side. I can shape my future reality by choosing what to pay attention to now.
About the time of that thought, I was running along the trail at the top of Seahurst Park. I tripped on a tree root, even though I have run or walked that trail hundreds of times. As the ground came rushing up toward my face, I turned my body, tucked my shoulder, and rolled. I didn’t quite do the thing where you tumble and pop right up, but I didn’t break anything, which was quite an achievement. I softened the blow, even when I didn’t see it coming. I was really happy that I fell, and that I tumbled harmlessly instead of putting an arm out and breaking a wrist or something. My shoulder was a little sore, but I felt energized by having handled the fall relatively well, better than I have some times in the past. After I found my glasses, and brushed off some of the dirt, I ran on with new energy. Shortly after that, I met a very nice golden retriever who ran up to me and wanted to be petted.
Another thought I had was that, when I get old and have dementia someday, I hope I talk to an imaginary Kelsy. My dad is always talking to people who aren’t in the room, carrying on long, elaborate conversations, usually about crazy new business schemes that are sure winners. Maybe you don’t get to choose the way you go crazy, but if I could, I would chose to talk to an imaginary Kelsy when I’m really old and can no longer distinguish reality from imagination.