Yesterday was such a beautiful day. We got our first real taste of winter in Thunder Bay with ten or so centimetres of wonderful snow. I was very excited to get back on the trails after taking a few days off due to extremely icy conditions.
It wasn't long after we left the trailhead that we realized that the only ones who had beaten us out on the trails today had cloven hooves or paws. The feeling of being the fist and only person to make their mark on the fresh untouched snow is something I find very freeing. It also never seems to get old. My running partner was happy to let me take the lead and break trail, he's good that way.
The temperatures were warm when the snow was falling yesterday. The snow was stuck thick to the trees leaning them down over the trail like traps, just waiting to deposit an avalanche of cold if you didn't duck down low enough as you ran by. We were both running easy today. We both have the day off and had no other plans. I enjoy runs like that where you decide where you are going when you get there. You see a trail junction coming and you go, um, that way! It's fun. You aren't looking at your watch, your pace, or your to do list for the day. It was just about the time I was pondering the very thought of how much I enjoy these types of runs, when my running partner spotted a deer getting up out of bed in the bush up ahead. Unfortunately he had seen the deer before I did, and he was off to wish it good morning. I yelled as loud as I could "come!", he never hesitated. I yelled twice more as he disappeared out of sight, feeling slightly bad that I had just destroyed the calm of the area. I continued on running knowing that my running partner would catch up. He didn't. I stopped and waited, calling once more so that he could pinpoint my location and within seconds he appeared around the corner and as he trotted up to me out of breath wish his ears back he was smiling contently. I followed my usual protocol and got him to lay down at my feet so I could give him a stern look which I know he understands and yet never the less will not stop him from doing the exact same thing next time.
We then continued on the trail to a log that has been set up like a "skinny", to be riden along on a mountain bike. I always walk or run along it depending on the conditions. I like to do it to watch my running partner follow me across. He really is pretty amazing and watching him follow me always makes me smile.
We ran a ways further and it wasn't until we stopped to heed the call of nature that I noticed some vibrant red in the snow. Not a large amount but extremely fresh. I looked at my running partner, waiting patiently. He certainly was not showing the signs of any injury. I looked down by his paw and saw that the vibrant red was indeed coming from him. I knelt down and picked up his front paw and after clearing away the snow I could see that he had gashed one of the lobes of his paw quite badly and as soon as I opened it up the vibrant red began to flow freely. We were about 5km from the trailhead and there was no real short way to get back. I contemplated us both running to the highway and then tieing my running partner to a tree while I went to get the truck. Somehow tying a bleeding animal to a tree on the edge of a quiet patch of bush didn't seem like a good idea. We turned around and began retracing our steps back to the trailhead, taking any shortcuts that presented themselves.
When we arrived back in the parking lot there was no longer the cold fresh snow to keep the would closed. It instantly began to form in a vibrant red pool around his paw. I took a spare Buff I had in the truck and as I twisted it several times into a smaller loop to put over his paw, I imagined adding it to the back of the Buff packaging as yet another way to wear it ("Dog Tourniquet"). I applied some hockey tape over top which I had found in the parking lot of another trailhead the winter before. Much to his dismay I then picked my running partner up and put him in the back of the truck. He instantly removed the buff and began to bleed all over the seat protector. I managed to subdue him and get the makeshift tourniquet back on his paw. Now we were off to the vet.
He's is there right now waiting for his breakfast to digest so that they can put him out and stitch his pad back on. I am at home like a worried parent, thinking about the best running partner I have ever had. He never cancels, he never sleeps in, he is good to go rain, hail or shine. He never has to pack it in early to go to work and he always has a smile on his face.
Have a wonderful day
Appreciate your running partners, who ever they may be