During my five-mile run this morning, I ran from Geneva, Il. up to St. Charles and back. Having lived in both of those communities over the years, the route I took has plenty of personal history. I’ve trained on these streets since the early 1970s, and am happy to live in an area as pretty as the Tri-Cities 35 miles west of Chicago. The Fox River cuts through St. Charles, Geneva and Batavia and bike paths follow both sides of the valley.
At the northern tip of my route, while cutting through the newly restored portions of downtown St. Charles, I glanced up to see a Salvation Army Bell Ringer. Her name is Heather Corcoran. She wore a Santa Claus hat and had what appeared to be two giant snow drifts by her feet.
They were dogs. Big dogs. One wore reindeer antlers. The other leaned up to give me a kiss while she obliged me with a photo in the company of her dogs.
She told me they were adopted from a man that has lost his life to brain cancer. His main wish before dying was to have them stay together.
“I cried on my way home though,” she admitted. “It was a lot of dog.”
But in true dog lover fashion, she quickly followed that confession with a phrase familiar to all sorts of dog owners, but especially those that have rescued dogs in need of a home. “It’s always a question of ‘who rescued who?” she said.
I quickly shared how the dog that entered our life played the same role. Our dog Chuck was a companion and ‘rescuer’ to our family during times of great strife.
These types of stories are something I stop to learn and share during many of my runs. On occasion, it slows my times down on mile splits. Just today, I stopped three times pet three different dogs during my run. I’m not sure there’s a Strava segment for that. And I don’t care.
As I’ve stated, my fastest times on these roads around home are long behind me. But the fastest way to my heart and the Merry Christmas feeling is to stop and pet some doggy souls and meet the owners.
Truly, I’ve met a lot of nice people this way. Of course there are a few who are not so nice. There are even some Scrooge dogs too. I get that. Not all dogs want company or introductions. They’re happy with their sniffs and would rather not be bothered during Walk Time. Or perhaps they have not had their visit from the Doggy Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. But rescued dogs don’t often seem to have that problem. They’ve often seen what it means to be neglected or abused. Once (and if…) they’ve healed from those experiences, they tend to be great companions.
So I wish you a Happy, Merry, Doggy Christmas, Hannukah, and Doggy or Kitty Holidays. Whatever choice you want to make. I just advise you to slow down and pet something, even if it’s the head of your own kid.
And Heather Corcoran, if you read this, I’ve forgotten the names of your dogs. Please write them in the comments section below. They are sweet and deserve the recognition.