This morning I had a dream that I was running my second half marathon and it was going swimmingly. I felt great, I didn’t have any crash and burn episodes like my first half marathon, and I felt like I was going to finish fast and strong. The weird part was that the race went through some old abandoned buildings and finished in a small warehouse thing…but anyway, it ended with me only cutting off like four minutes off my first half marathon time!!! It was so frustrating when I woke up. I’m hoping to cut off like 20 minutes, not four! I think my brain was processing the fact that at 5:00am I decided to push my speed work to this evening…lol. I know that if I run a smarter race I’ll be able to lose about 20 minutes, and that’s at my current fitness without the speed and strength work I’m planning for this month.
So anyway, on to the main topic of this post: my favorite dog! Meet Reecy, as in Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, which is what she looked like when she weighed 5 pounds.
I brought Reecy along for a run the other day, for the first time in a while. She’s been looking a little puffy lately and she has started getting in to the trash, so I figure she needs some exercise in her life to tire her out. This is how she usually spends her days:
She has a very hard life full of sleeping on the couch and barking at cats out the window.
We recently took in a lost dog that was roaming our neighborhood (we never found the owners…very sad. Took him to a no-kill adoption shelter.) and he was SO SKINNY that it made us realize that Reecy has been packing on the pounds lately! I used to bring her on a lot of my runs before I started training so we fed her accordingly, but when I stopped running with her we forgot to adjust her food. So she’s on a diet now.
Now that I’m used to doing longer runs it’s not so stressful to think about bringing Reecy along with me. She’s very easily excited so if I am stressed out, she won’t behave well on a run. Dogs feed off of whatever energy you’re giving out. I am easing her back in to some mileage – dogs are natural runners but you do have to build their fitness just like a human’s. Otherwise their pads could get worn or they could pull a muscle or something (not likely at my speed, but you know.) I started by bringing her on a 2 mile loop she has run lots of times. I figured she would be comfortable on a route she knows and would have less excitement to distract her from the job of running.
A little dog knowledge – dogs need physical and mental challenges to stay calm and submissive. If a dog is misbehaving, you should check to see that they are getting enough exercise and mental stimulation! Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, is an advocate of giving them jobs to drain their energy.
Reecy is generally very well behaved; the only issue we ever have with her is that she gets over-excited when someone comes to the door or comes in the house. She loses her cool completely and she can’t obey any commands. She’s also extremely smart…it’s shocking how many words she understands. Sometimes it feels like she can follow a conversation. It’s a little trippy.
Running with me helps take care of her physical energy, but she still has a lot of mental energy just bouncing around in her head which we are trying to figure out how to challenge. Lately she has been getting in to the trash, or tearing up something left on the coffee table. When I take her on a run, I focus on teaching her to “heel” and run right next to me. I don’t allow her to pull ahead of me on the leash. For one, it’s super annoying because it messes up my arm-swing. But it’s also important because it teaches her that 1) I am the pack leader and she has to submit to how fast I want to go or where I want to turn, and 2) it gives her the mental challenge of remembering to stay beside me. We learned this method from Cesar, and it works well when done consistently.
Another “job” I give her is carrying her poo bag when she fills one up, which she does like clockwork about 5 minutes in to every run. Ha. I tie off the bag, then tie it to a hook on her collar. The effect is immediate – it’s like you can see her straighten up and get serious about doing a job. It’s so great! *heart eyes*
One of the main reasons we even got a dog was so I’d have a running partner to keep me safe as I wander random parts of Orlando in the dark hours of the morning. (The other reason is that I’m pathetic without dogs.) She’s done a good job of protecting me over the past three years. We have some good stories of how she reacts when someone (Matt) breaks in to the house (or opens the front door too quickly) and she can sound pretty intimidating.
I’m hoping to keep bringing her on my shorter runs, and if she gets good at heeling I’ll bring her on longer runs. I know that the more consistent I am, the better she will be. It will be fun to have her with me on long runs some day.
We want to get her a backpack so she can carry more weight and have a more substantial job to do than carry poo bags. This will be especially helpful for camping and hiking trips! She could pack her own toys and food.
Do you run with your dog?
What’s your best dog-running tip?