Saturday morning. I’m collapsed in my chair. My dog is heaving beside me. We ran two miles in half an hour, used to run 3 miles in 25 minutes, things have changed.
In 2010 I wrote a story about a white dog (story: woman and dog swim across the bay in a storm, and run wild through the hidden pathways of coastal villages by night; real life: tired mum actually loves the parenting snuggles and feeding her kids, then goes for an evening jog and swim with her buddy — same landscape, but less angst and more puffing and wheezing).
So anyway, it’s 2021 and irl the white dog, my crazy-high-energy rocket dog, is now old. Worse, he’s fat — in the COVID lockdowns of 2020, home-educating the kids and working at my desk, there was so little time for self-care that like many people I sacrificed my own. I hadn’t realised how much this would impact my running buddy and muse.
He’s put on 9lbs. He’s a DOG.
I’ve put on 18lbs. (Proportionally, roughly the same.)
For me, this is squashy, but for my old boy, it’s life-threatening. He’s 12. I looked up how long his breed live and it said 10-12 years. Scream. However, he was super-fit for ten of those twelve years, and it’s only in the last few months that he’s started to look unwieldy and slow. He’s salvageable. With a little care, he could go on a couple more years, said the vet.
I want those years. I imagine he also wants those years.
— Dylan Thomas
This was intended to be purely a fiction blog but running and mountains and the sea are part of my make-up — I can’t not be about them — so here we are. The old dog who enabled my fitness and informed my fiction for so many years now needs me to come back to this. The parenting, the housework, the day job, the finances will all of course demand the greater slice, but my old boy, as always, is leading me back to the basics.
Wet Stones, 2011