“John” – Marathon Dog
by Claudia Roedl
In 2000, while helping out a family friend on a potato farm in northern Wisconsin, and without my knowing, my husband drove 200 miles in order to surprise me with a puppy. He walked up to thepotato grader with a nine-week-old pup so pristine and exuding that irresistible puppy smell that I felt myself too dirty to even touch him.
Little did I know on that afternoon that this gift would become the driving force behind every one of my last 31 marathons and the motivation for training runs occurring in the hours before dawn in every kind of imaginable weather. Unlike human running partners, John never whined or gave excuses, but rather fell into a methodical trot by my side...no leash necessary...never even stopping to smell a tree or shrub and ignoring those very few runners we came in contact with along our route. The mileage for that morning couldbe five miles or 15; the weather cold, rain or snow (never heat) regardless, it was all the same...his happiness was in the moment.
John and I have run literally dozens of half marathons (13.2miles), with John accumulating his own rather impressive finisher medal collection; but was he ready for the “big dance?” No other dog has ever completed a full marathon.
This spring I decided to confer with my veterinarian to
see if she thought John was ready to run his first full marathon (26.2
miles). It was to be held in Prescott, Arizona, which is rated one of
the toughest marathons in the country. I was apprehensive as we almost
lost John to Valley Fever in May of 2008. It’s been a long haul, but I’d
say he’s at 100 percent and Dr. Cynthia Brown agreed; he was in
excellent shape to accomplish such a feat given his nine years of
conditioning. For others who may wish to try this, please don’t think to
do this in haste. The dream to run a marathon takes years of training,
not to mention dogs are usually not permitted on a marathon course.
Thank you to Michele Santiago, for my current Golden “Noah,” who is from Elysian lines…you are the reason for this tribute to John appearing here by contacting the editor about his amazing accomplishment.
Thank you, Heidi Greefkes at Xanthos Golden Retrievers for choosing this pup for me nine years ago; my third Golden from Xanthos and surely not my last. You have given us a gift to which no dollar amount can be attached. Sixteen years with three of the best Goldens I could ever wish to have; all chosen at your own hand. I know, like most breeders, it kills you to see John shaved, but you try running 26 miles in a fur coat!
And finally God, whom I thank each day he allows John to be with me as we all know they can be taken from us in a moments notice. I never take a minute with John for granted.
This article was approved by the Editorial Review Board.
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