Stay Close


Fluffy goldenrod

Ruby is a very obedient dog, always has been. Lately, I’ve been working with her to control her desire to race ahead when she is off-leash on trails with me. I clamp her cheeks between my thumbs and lift her head so that she has no choice but to look directly into my penetrating eyes. “Stay close,” I tell her.

We’ve worked a lot on that command, stay close. It means stay in front of me and ignore your natural urge to run wild and recklessly ahead. More importantly it means, I love you.

I let her go and make up to her by stroking the top of her head, telling her she’s a good girl. We continue walking on the grass trail surrounded by thick goldenrod on a bright October morning. I stop and wait until she looks at me, then I give the command she’s been waiting for: Let’s go.

As soon as she gets about twenty yards ahead of me, and before she builds up enough steam to lose her head in her own sense of adventure, I call out a quick “Ruby stop,” meaning no, cease, return to me. She turns back, passing in front of me. She looks at me: Is everything okay? “Good girl” I tell her. I jog on. She trots in comfortable range, checking out everything surrounding her that she would have missed if she were racing down the trail.

Ruby and I head north. We run through an area of open woods, the ground scattered with acorns from white oaks. I spot a few patches of wild onion and thinning blackberries. Ruby sniffs her way through the tangles. White and purple asters grow in abundance along the edges of the trail, thriving under the autumn sun.



Wild onion


Out in front of us, a few whitetail deer stand alert, watching our arrival. But before Ruby spots them, I call her to my side. I have seen many deer this autumn and this group pauses long enough for me to snap a picture.



Whitetail deer


Ruby is a Viszla and Golden Retriever mix. There are three terms I’m aware of that describe her breed: Labralas, Viszlador, and Retrizsla. She is colored red with a white blaze on her chest. She has silky ears and the most expressive eyes. I can easily spot the white on her chest when she is in the brush, similarly to the white underside of a deer’s tail when in flight. Her rusty coat is striking against a snowy ground, however, she is quite sensitive to cold weather, so I run on an indoor treadmill when wintertime arrives.

The trail ends on the edge of a field bursting with thistles and nesting boxes for birds. Ruby scouts around the border, sunlight streaming on her back. I am walking now, cooling down, when I see Ruby do a complete about-face up ahead of me. Bounding with joy, she comes racing back to my side, her expression pure happiness. She knows it’s time to go, until tomorrow.




I think she’s airborne!




Thank you for reading!

*originally published Oct. 2016

67 thoughts on “Stay Close

  1. She sounds absolutely adorable! what beautiful sights too that you both share 🙂

  2. Love it! You are both lucky girls 😊

  3. She is beautiful. And…”stay close = I love you”…perfect, Kelly. ☺

  4. Ruby seems to be a great friend Kelly 🙂
    I do also enjoy the trips with my dog Odin.

  5. Enjoyed your morning run with Ruby…vicariously 😄

  6. My wife and her family have always had little yappy dogs. Hence, we have little yappy dogs. Those little yappy dogs have come very close to turning me into an anti-dog person. Your dog sounds exactly like the dog I want. But I’m not getting “my dog” until I retire in a few years so I’ll have the time to train it (and me) and spend a lot of time with the dog. I want a dog that can go for a run with me, on leash or off, and then is quiet and calm. And doesn’t bark at anything and everything!!!

    Thank you for sharing this.

    • Hi Mark! Yeah, what a “tradition” to carry on! I’ve always wondered why small dogs are so yappy, actually. Maybe they feel like they just need to be heard more.
      I highly recommend Ruby’s breed if you want a very intelligent, sensitive, and affectionate dog. Pure bred Viszlas are beautiful dogs, but known to have very high energy. Mixed with Goldens they settle down though. I would get another dog of Ruby’s breed in a heartbeat! And she was a rescue from the shelter too! She is trained to run on a leash as well, which I have to do when around people, of course.
      I think that’s great that you are waiting to get a dog when you have more time. I work part time (but put in full time hours and more) but agree that it’s important to have the time to spend with them. Good luck with your decision! 🙂

      • I’d like to solve the yappiness of little dogs, too! Believe me, my desire for peace and quiet needs that solution. 😉

        I will definitely remember your dog in three years when I start looking for a dog of my own.

        Enjoying the World Series?

      • Oh my gosh, Mark, it’s incredible! Have family coming today to go down to the watch party at the stadium tonight. It’s sunny, 70 degrees. We really got lucky with the weather.
        Been partying since the Cavs big win last summer. Must stop! Ha ha!

      • I remember how it felt when the SF Giants won in 2010. It is pretty incredible. Enjoy the ride.

      • I will. You too, I know you’re a Tribe fan! 🙂

  7. A great companion for your runs, Kelly. Dogs are great reminders of the pure joy in everyday life 🙂

    • They really are, D. All they want to do is give love! I couldn’t run where I do without her. She gives me peace of mind. Female dogs are typically more aggressive than males, and she defends me fiercely! But she’s very friendly too, just extremely protective of her mom. 🙂

  8. Your morning run sounds remarkably like my morning walk — the scenery is very much the same. Woods and fields. And deer! I feel like I took two this morning!

  9. Looks like you live in a really nice place Kelly, I love to go and walk in nature 🙂 I’m amazed you got to photograph the deer!

    • Hi Ogden! Yeah, we have an amazing Metroparks system with plenty of trails to explore. There are a lot of deer around, a common sight actually, and some are quite tame. I’ve been right next to fawns in the spring but you have to be careful because the mothers are very protective and could hurt you if they wanted to! Thanks, Ogden 🙂

      • Thats great! Richmond park in London is like that, I’d forgotten, as its so many years since I was there, Dartmoor is lovely too, it has wild ponies, I don’t see so much wildlife here, its out there, but in hiding, tho I saw a huge rabbit the other week when out walking, it may even have been a hare, it was charged out when I surprised it 🙂

      • Wild ponies and huge rabbits? Sounds like a story you could write! I didn’t know there was a difference between a rabbit and a hare, will have to look into that!

      • Oh yes, you should! The Hare is sacred in paganism, I’m no expert, but I believe Hares live out in fields on the run, while rabbits live down rabbit holes and are much more social than hares – Hares box each other in spring time! 🙂

      • Paganism? Well isn’t that appropriate for Halloween! Very interesting, Ogden. I think the expression “Mad as a March Hare” did originate in England or the UK. Don’t hear that said as often around here though. 🙂

  10. i’m glad that you have each other to run with and it sounds like you are always learning from each other. what a pretty girl she is )

    • Thanks, Beth! My whole family is crazy about her but she and I share a special bond because of running. I think the most important thing dogs teach us is to give unconditional love, which is all they know how to do!
      Hope you are having a good weekend 🙂

  11. Ohhh, I loved this. Felt like I was out there with you and Ruby. Brought me back to the days I walked/trotted with my Golden in the woods and open fields. My Henry learned how to listen and stay put too…unless… Well, let’s just say, he loved deer droppings. Hard to get him away from that. :-0
    Your Ruby is gorgeous.

  12. You’re so lucky. If I let my dog off her leash I’d never see her again and my daughters would be heartbroken. If I tried to clamp her cheeks between my thumbs I’d lose one of them. She’s bitten me for a lot less. I wish I had a dog like Ruby instead of an insane cockapoo who needs to be medicated.

    • Ha ha! An insane cockapoo? Did you get out-voted by your girls on that one?!
      Yes, you need a running buddy Mark! A dog just for you.
      It’s strange to think of preferences with dogs for either sex, when you think about it… how we attach masculine and feminine traits to them. Like “purse dogs” for instance.
      Ruby’s breed really does make for the perfect dog, though. The only issue she has is fear of storms… it’s really bad. Viszlas are super sensitive, affectionate dogs, so much so that they are called “velcro dogs.” So I think the Viszla in her might be the reason for her storm anxiety. I put one of those Thunder shirts on her, which helps, but her fear has gotten worse, so I had to get a Xanax script for her! The vet said it’s really common in many dogs.
      (I might need Xanax myself, come to think of it, to get me through the last game coming up. OMG!!!!!)

  13. Such a beautiful post! As a dog lover I adore this, the lovely pictures and especially Ruby. My dog is such a nervous Nelly he won’t go anywhere without his leash and someone hanging on to the end of it 🙂

    • Hi Holly! Thank you very much! That’s funny about your dog. They’re just like people with their own personalities, aren’t they? I’ve heard of dog therapists and last week I heard of dog massage therapy! Maybe that would help! lol
      You can actually get certified to do it, can you believe that? Get paid to basically pet dogs!
      My son is home sick with the flu… on Halloween of all days! I just hope I don’t get it, not feeling good myself. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you have fun if you celebrate Halloween. xo

      • I am so sorry your son is ill Nancy, such a bad day to get sick. It has happened here too when my boy was little. They are so disappointed. My dog is quite the character (as they all are) . I do massage and baby him. He has never really related to other dogs, he thinks he is a person! lol!

      • I must seem like a Nancy, you are the second person who has called me that! It’s okay, I know how that can happen when typing comments. I’ve been called Jackie too, like the TV show, but I’ve never seen it.
        So maybe your dog is so pampered he just can’t handle the real world! I know how easy it is to spoil them. I wish they were all so lucky! 🙂

      • I think you have nailed it re my dog 🙂 so spoiled! I am sorry Kelly, I think there is another blog with “nurse Nancy”, I apologize! Stay well, Kelly ❤ xx

      • No problem. You too, Holly! xo

  14. Oh what a sweet dog enjoyed the walk with nature too. Thanks Kelly the dear photo is beautiful.

  15. I thoroughly enjoyed this one, Kelly. This line in particular, “More importantly, it means I love you.” I loved experiencing Ruby’s full-hearted trust in you. Dogs can teach us so much…


    • Hi Michael! Thank you! Yes, Ruby is very socially aware, and I think she understands that I have her best interests at heart. I know she feels the same way about me. There really is nothing like the heart of a dog. 🙂

  16. I love the name, Ruby, and her strong, friendly spirit! She is precious resting at the end of the post.
    What wonderful training you are giving her, as well as special times together! 🙂 I loved the deer in your photograph! The woods are beautiful through your words, Kelly. ❤

  17. Special time with ‘special friend’…. Diane

  18. Beautiful post, in every nice way!

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