Alaska and Gideon – My Little Heroes

My dogs have changed my life. This statement may seem a bit generic and somewhat overused, but there is no other way to phrase it. That’s the truth, but the bigger truth is that they actually SAVED my life. For many years I struggled with addiction, depression, and eating disorders. When my best friend died in December 2020, losing her battle with addiction, mine took a turn for the worse. Angry, confused, sad and alone, I destroyed my mind, body and spirit with alcohol and drugs. I went down the rabbit hole and didn’t like what I saw. After 4 months of this, I was tired of being sick and tired. I voluntarily checked myself into rehab in Kommetjie for the fourth time and asked for help again.

Today, I have been clean and sober for a year and ten months, and my mental health has improved a hundredfold. There are 2 things I can proudly say are responsible for this change: my two dogs and my love for Ultra Endurance Running.

I contacted TEARS the week after I left the clinic and adopted LUX – now Alaska. She was exactly what I needed after coming back into my life; a companion, a friend, a little heartbeat who was next to me every night. She would take me for morning and evening walks, and eventually join me on trails where we ran together.

Soon after, Gideon came into our lives and brought with him pure love, unconditional joy and happiness – and lots of anxious excitement! The foster family turned into a failure (my proudest failure yet) and I learned that he is the one who demands attention, while Alaska is more placid and calm, not really too confused by the way the attention is divided between her and him. The two immediately liked each other, brother, sister and best friends – my little family was now complete.

Together, they taught me the value of friendship, trust and unconditional love, but above all: responsibility. They needed me as much as I needed them. I will always be grateful for the companionship they give me, the hugs and kisses they provide whenever asked, and the true love I have developed for them both.

I joined a running club called Mindset Movement, and Alaska and Gideon would join the sessions on Mondays and Wednesdays when we ran on the boardwalk. They would soon be known to everyone in Mindset Movement (and Seapoint), after which I would have to shout for Alaska to follow us. She gets distracted quite easily, but Gideon is my shadow and doesn’t stray too far from me before coming back to see if I’m still there.

After being a member of Mindset Movement for over a year, what I learned from them was paramount in the transformation I experienced not only physically and emotionally, but also mentally. Running Ultra Marathons requires mental toughness and that’s exactly what my coach drilled into my mind during every training session. In February 2023, I ran my first 100km Ultra Endurance race at The Tankwa Crossing and placed first overall in my category running 107km in 13 hours 28 minutes and 17 seconds.

The passion and love I have for my dogs and for running has reignited the fire in me to become a better version of myself every day. Whereas before I couldn’t look into another person’s eyes and tell them that I loved who I was, I can now look into Alaska and Gideon’s eyes and tell them that they have a mother who loves herself and is proud of this person. she is, and will continue to be, the best mother to them, always choosing to save their lives every day, just as they have saved hers every day since.

It is because of them that I continue on this path of sobriety and growth, and I am excited for the many more years I will spend with them. With the exponential growth I have experienced since having them in my life, I know I have MUCH MORE to look forward to with them by my side.

Thank you – Maranda Müller


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