Pleasure and Pain – Running with a Dog
Posted by scott on May 7, 2009
Our dog Nessie is a hard-core runner. She absolutely loves our runs and is incredibly attuned to the slightest sign that a run might be coming up. If I’m checking my bag before going to work the next day, she comes from anywhere in the house as soon as she hears the zipper. Any time I touch running shoes (tidying them up in the closet, etc.), she is at my side. Any now with our early morning long runs, any time I get up early she is following me around the house, just in case. When a run is definitely imminent – running gear on, shoes on, GPS on – she whines and wimpers until we are out the door.
She is tons of fun on the trail. She is constantly back and forth to be out front and then back to say hi. She’s in and out of the woods flushing grouse and deer. I put my old GPS on her last weekend and when I did 11.7 miles, she did 13.4. She keeps looking back at me like she’s thinking “I can’t believe we get to do this!”
In town is still fun for her, but a bit more of a struggle for me. She is constantly pulling me forward – it takes 3-4 miles for her to settle down into a comfortable pace. I finally discovered that an extending leash, which I hate from a dog-training standpoint, is the most comfortable leash to hold even when she pulls. I also try to hit trail areas early morning, when she can be off leash.
We had our biggest run-in (literally) a couple weekends ago when I painfully learned the hazards of barefoot-style running and dogs. I was halfway into a 10-miler and things were going great in my FiveFingers when she suddenly darted in front of me. My foot was swinging forward and I kicked her leg hard. Fortunately for her, the VFFs meant she was OK but my foot erupted in instant pain. I came to a full stop and shared some vocal thoughts for a few moments. For the rest of that weekend I was sure it was broken! Xray on Monday confirmed no fracture, so we are again on speaking terms.
The highlight for Nessie is when we get home, and she gets a raw egg (or more depending on distance). She never lets me forget it, and follows me around the house until it’s in her dish (a polite small whine here and there to remind me). It’s a little ritual I started after we first started running and I would get really crabby with all of her pulling. I decided I needing to reset my attitude, so I started calling her “Coach” on the run and an egg for a treat when we got home. I’m still kind of wondering if this is what she really likes about the run – just the egg!