by Al Garlinski
Supporting the Winnipeg Humane Society:
My wife, Cindy, and I have always been big supporters of the WHS. The Paws in Motion event is a favourite and a great opportunity to raise funds for, and awareness about humane treatment for all animals.
Animals infinitely enrich our lives, but their impact is often overlooked and the compassionate and humane treatment that they deserve is neglected. By running and walking for this cause, we hope to raise awareness of the many animals that have no place to call home, and to dispel the notion that animals are disposable. The relationship people have with their pets is unlike any other relationship, providing us the opportunity to love earnestly and unconditionally without thought to what we will be given in return, without worrying about being judged, criticized or evaluated as can happen in our human relationships.
Running & Inspiration:
You could say I have two passions in life. Running and running with dogs! My running adventures started nearly 40 years ago in hockey dry land training by running for miles with my childhood dog, Frisky. I have been running ever since.
We all have role models in our lives that we look up to and from which we draw the inspiration to push ourselves outside of our comfort zone and to keep going when the going gets tough. One of mine happens to have four legs! He is Spencer (Kurtz) Morin, a ten year old Schnauzer who runs with me. My good friend, Renee Morin, took Spencer in when his owner, Andy Kurtz, had to move into a senior care home at the age of 98! Together, with Renee’s dog, Chloe, they founded and organize the Out of the Dog House Small Dog Playgroup. Spencer is also a staff dog for the daycare at The Little Dog House Small Dog Center where I organize Fit & Fun play sessions for small dogs.
When I’m thinking of reasons not to run, I think of Spencer and the all out joy he has to be out running with me. I’m no different than other runners and I often have several built-in excuses not to run when I don’t feel like it, but when I think of Spencer, all the potential excuses evaporate. I think if he can run, I can surely run, regardless of the type of day I’m having.
You see Spencer is not a natural runner. He has an ataxic gait from a neurological condition. Although his “walk” is a bit unusual, his running stride and form is much closer to that of a normal dog. He wears bright red sharp-looking Vibram rubber hiking shoes on his front paws to protect the tops from rubbing against the pavement. Over the years, I have seen him develop and build up muscles he never got to use in his former living situation, and his love of running keeps growing.
When you think about it, Spencer’s attitude toward running and exercise is no different from any other dog – but it is a lot different from our own. While most of us have to force ourselves to exercise and make resolutions to stick with it, especially with something as vigorous as running, a dog needs no motivation to go outside and run. Running is very high on most dogs’ lists of favourite things to do!
Memorable Marathon Experiences:
Of all the races I’ve done over the years, my absolute favourite race was participating in Racing the Planet’s ultra-marathon, a 250 km run across Iceland. Being a self-supported race, we ran with 25 lb backpacks full of food, water and supplies. I was honoured to wear the Canadian flag and represent our country. Sadly, the race didn’t end well for me as I was hospitalized for hypothermia, but I learned a lot of life lessons that I have taken to heart, and I was still able to support my charity for the event, the WHS.
I remember reading a t-shirt at the race that said“Better to die trying than live in regret.” While I don’t want to die, I could definitely relate to the message of pushing yourself to your limits, to push yourself outside of your comfort zone. This is what I did with participating in this race and plan to continue to push myself until this old body expires…no regrets.
I used to fear failure, but now I embrace the learning that comes with it and I hunger for more knowledge. There is so much that we may miss about ourselves if we don’t dream, if we don’t try,if we don’t keep reaching for those bright sparkling stars.
See you at PAWS in Motion in June!