Gracie is not technically our dog. She belongs to the neighbors ("neighbors" in rural Kansas means anyone residing within 3 miles of your house). But she might as well be ours. She came to our house to hang out with Blazer (R.I.P), our golden retriever. We fed her and loved her and put blankets out for her in the winter. She doesn't come around much anymore, because Blazer is no more. But every now and then, she'll hear me running past and come out, tongue lolling, panting like crazy and run home with me. She whines and wags her tail, pushes her head into my hand for a rub. She's not the best pacer, but she is a great listener. And she's done everything from 2 miles to 10 miles and has never pooped out or slowed me down.
Most importantly, when it's Friday afternoon and I'm coming down from a long work week, she makes my run bearable. She puts a smile on my face and a spring in my step. And if I slow down, she stops and looks back at me as if to say, "What do you think you're doing? C'mon!"Thanks, Gracie, for being my run buddy.