Two things really brought me back to running consistently again after a few years of being more focused on hiking and yoga: the Boston Marathon bombing and adopting my dog, Tulah Mae.
I moved back to the Seacoast of New Hampshire after 6 years away in graduate school and a post doc in 2012. I was living alone, new to the area, and really wanted a buddy to go do fun stuff with so I started looking for a dog in the spring of 2013. I have a type. I like medium-sized brown dogs with floppy ears. To me they are just so “DOG”. When I saw this sad-looking pup staring back at me on Petfinder, I was immediately in love.
I emailed Tulah’s adoption coordinator the next day and described my lifestyle and why I wanted a dog and her coordinator thought I’d be a great fit. Tulah was somewhere between 1 and 1.5 years old, had just had three puppies, and was recovering from giardia. She was kind of a hot mess, but she had energy and her foster thought she’d be a great runner and hiker. I was approved to adopt her in a couple weeks later and picked her up at her foster home in Watertown, MA on March 29, 2013.
The first day I had her, she chased my cats around the apartment and peed on my bed. On our first walk she attacked another dog when they went to sniff each other. Three days later I brought her to the vet and found out that she had heart worm disease and that she was going to have to undergo an expensive and fairly difficult treatment followed by a month of crate rest and another month of low activity. I was devastated for her and overwhelmed because it meant keeping a very high-energy dog still and crated while we got to know each other. Two days after the vet visit, she escaped on me and ran through downtown Dover at dusk for almost 2hrs, just keeping me out of reach, darting in and out of cars along a busy main road. She gave me every reason to say “This isn’t for me.” I definitely thought of calling the rescue and giving up on her, but there was just something about her that let me know she was my dog and I was going to figure out how to make it all work.
She was awful on leash. We started walking. A LOT. Then we moved to running. At first she could only go 1-2 miles at a time because she was so distracted and her nose was always down on the ground. Then she started to figure out the whole running thing. She loved it. I started to train regularly again since I had a training partner.
A couple weeks after I adopted Tulah, the chaos of the Boston Marathon bombing unfolded. Her foster home was less than a half mile from where the suspects were eventually captured/killed. At that point, Boston was still home to me. I had lived there from 2006-2011 and fell in love with every part of the city. It affected me so deeply to see such horror on the streets I knew so well and at an event that I had grown up watching every single year.
In the months that followed, I found a way to enter the 2014 Boston Marathon and my little training buddy, Tulah, did every run with me. I never ran more than 15 miles when training (newbie mistake!), but she handled it perfectly well. In the midst of training I adopted Zorro and that presented quite a few challenges (a story for another time). Zorro wasn’t able to really leave my house, but Tulah kept me company every step of the way. We were a team.
After Boston in 2014, I was hooked on running again. I ran Boston again in 2015 as a fundraiser for PAWS New England. Zorro had recovered quite a bit from his early trauma at that point and he would join us on a few training runs. We were able to raise over $5000 for shelter dogs through our marathon campaign. It was such a rewarding experience to give back to the rescue that had brought my two best buddies and a renewed love of running into my life. Here’s our fundraising video if you want to take a look!
Tulah is still a bit of a challenge. She’s wild and she’s stubborn. When she sets her mind to something, she’s going to do it. She can’t sit still. Just recently, I realized Tulah is pretty much the dog version of me. Sometimes she drives me crazy, but it’s for all the reasons why I sometimes drive myself (and others) crazy. But boy, can she run!
Mileage: 38.1 running; 7 walking
Time on feet: 8hr 15min
February 27-March 5
Mileage: 48.3 running; 7.6 walking
Time on feet: 10hr 12min