I could tell by the time I reached the corner — one house away — that my morning run would be strong. Isn’t it funny how it only takes a few footsteps, a block at the most, to get an idea how the next miles will play out?
It also only took the distance of a few houses to know the weather forecasters were right. The cold front had blown (that being the operative word) in and the winds were brutal. I thankfully had my trusty Brooks windbreaker, two pairs of gloves, and the red hat my dad gave me years ago to help protect me. But no question; I was freezing.
(Here, by the way, is pretty much what I looked like. I’m wearing the same outfit I’d planned to wear in the Dallas Half Marathon, which was cancelled due to ice).
About three-quarters into my run, I was in my usual zone — NPR in my ears but not in my head; focusing on nothing in particular. A barking dog jostled me. A barking dog practically nibbling at my ankles made me jump.
“Whoa!” I said. The little dog was off her leash; only minutes before on the block I’d just been around, I’d seen one clipped to her collar and and held by the owner who now came dashing after her.
I stopped running and started calling out to her.
“I’m so sorry,” he said. “She’s still scared of people.”
I knew what he was going to say next before he said it: “She’s a rescue dog.”
The two dogs in my house are rescue dogs — strays, to be precise, picked up and cared for by this loving organization. I know how love and kindness, tenderness and food, a place to stay and someone to love can change outlooks and lives.
I looked at this little dog and the man wearing what I think were flannel pajama bottoms with his sweatshirt, a cap, a black pair of gloves. Though I was facing north and — I’m realizing just now — into the blustery wind, I didn’t feel so cold any more.
Instead, I felt warmed by his kindness, and by my own little prediction that he and this new resident of his house are going to change each other’s lives in ways that can’t quite be described.
And for that, The Grateful Runner says thank you.