Today, I’m a proud furkid father as I celebrate Ella Knapp’s fourth birthday. Ella’s time is spent sleeping late on the weekend, barking at anyone in her family who sneezes and sitting at the table during dinner.

Some of you may remember her from the worst day ever when she was spooked and ran away from us on the Plaza, hatching the “Find Ella” campaign and eventually, her safe return home.

When I moved to Kansas City in August 2010, trail running became a love of mine, much to Ella’s delight. She quickly reaped the benefits of being able to run off leash, bounding behind as her herding instincts pulled her in every direction, chasing down birds, squirrels, deer and other furry woodland creatures.

Taking to the trail with Ella has given me some of the fondest memories of running in Kansas City. Growing up, I did not have a dog and now I can’t imagine my life without one.

Her boundless energy, unwavering support and eternal loyalty gives me  happiness only a wet nose and a Sheltie spin could provide.

I’ve learned no matter what time it is when I lace my shoes up and get ready to head out the door, Ella thinks it is a perfect time for a run. She sits and watches me put my shoes on and waits for the slightest hint of me going for her running harness. She knows once I’ve got the harness, it’s time for her to head out on the open road.

It’s a privilege to run with Ella. When she is old and grey, I’ll take her for walks as long as she can maintain. But, that is for a later time because right now, she is full of energy and a passion for being outdoors.

Truth be told, I want to enjoy runs like Ella does. Each run for her is pure joy. Every time her paws hit the trail, her ears pick up, her tail is held high and she is on high alert. She’s back in her element, she’s on her turf.

Ella reminds me of the simple joy running brings. There’s no need to charge my Garmin, put on my HR monitor, or hook into any number of gadgets I carry with me on my training.

There’s always time to lace up and go.

Happy Birthday Bubba!

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