Running with Dogs

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Throughout recorded time humans have had a uniquely symbiotic relationship with dogs.   Dogs have provided humans with companionship, security and helped with various jobs like herding, hunting, extermination and sometimes were even used as food.  We’ll avoid the pet food stories for now and stick to the companionship aspect—actually, dogs as exercise partners.

Exercising can be a boring, lonely endeavor.  Studies have shown that working out with a trainer or partner increases motivation and helps one stick to an exercise program.  But finding a reliable training partner who will keep you in the game without making you crazy can be a daunting task.  I mean, how do you find someone who’s always ready to go, rain or shine, without complaints?  Someone who’s always happy to see you, willing to go as far as you can, and has no opinion on where to go or how hard to hit it.  That’s right my friends, just ask Spot.

Everybody knows that before you start any exercise program, you should always consult with your doctor first.  The same goes for your dog.  Before you start your running regimen with your dog, be sure to get him checked out by your vet.   Dogs never complain and are perfectly willing to suffer through any kind of hidden illness or injury to be with you.  You wouldn’t want to run your dog for five miles if he has lung problems or joint issues.  Not good.

After your pet sees the vet, be sure to gradually build up his running time and distance just as people do when starting a new program.  If your dog is a house dog, chances are he doesn’t get to run miles at a time during a normal day.  Go slowly and let his muscles develop.

Also, remember to keep you and your buddy hydrated.  Make sure you take plenty of water for your dog.  He’s going to want to drink when he’s thirsty.  Don’t let him drink out of puddles.  There could be heavy toxins in the water puddled on roads and streets.  Lead, petroleum, insecticides… all could be very dangerous to your dog.  

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Lastly, keep your dog leashed and pick up after him.  The next person running behind you really won’t appreciate it if he goes home with the remnants of your dog on his shoes.  Be a cool person and a good running partner.  

We recently met up with a couple of runners who run together and with their dogs. I guess you could call it a pack of sorts.  Meet Barbara Mueller and her dog, Greta and Deb Litzelfelner and her dog, Tucker.  

My name is Barbara Mueller and I run with my dog, Greta named after Greta Waitz the Norwegian marathon runner and former world record holder.  I am a registered nurse that works at a local hospital in Cape Girardeau.  I currently work as a Nursing Informaticist and have many years of Adult Critical Care and Hemodialysis and also prior Critical Care Management experience.

I started running with my black and tan coonhound Boo and have gone many miles with him. But he is older and prefers the couch!  So I began going out on runs with my friend Deb.  It was actually while running with Deb along a country road that Greta found us.  We knew she was someone’s special pet so we found where she lived and returned her.  Her owners were elderly and she is a high energy dog. They were having a hard time keeping her in the yard.  A few weeks later, I was on the same route and she came and, this time, followed me home.

I contacted the owner again and I offered to buy her.  The lady told me all about the dog being very high strung and told me if I wanted her I could just have her.  We have been running buddies ever since.  We run 25+ miles a week.  

Not all dogs are bred to run or can run, due to their physical build, mouth, nose, etc.  But Greta has hound and something else in her that make her a good runner.  She is really quite smart and has become accustomed to our running routine.

Running with a dog gives me an extra layer of security, as they can see, hear, smell, and, more importantly, sense danger, obstacles, people, other animals, sooner than humans.

For me, this story is about the relationship between the dog and it’s owner.  The bond that develops trust and love they have for the owner. Exercise has always been a part of my life. I know that sharing that joy with other two-legged and four-legged friends can change anyone’s life.

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My name is Deb Litzelfelner.  Tucker and I started running together about three years ago.  Before that I was running alone for about six years. I had always felt a little guilty when I would go out the door and leave my dogs behind. One day I took a look at Tucker’s face and thought, “why not take him with me?” Little did I know that this would be the inspiration to begin a whole new career for me.  On one of our runs, I had an epiphany that probably other people would want their dogs to be walked or ran but, for whatever reason, could not do it themselves.  Thus was born my business called, Run Your Tail Off.  I am now proudly a professional dog walker/runner and all because of a little dog named Tucker who begged me to take him on my runs.

One of the many benefits of running with my dog is that you focus on the dog and less on the pain that is sometimes associated with long, hilly runs.  The benefits to my dog are also numerous in that he stays in great shape and also after a run is pretty content to take a long nap as I go to work.  One of my favorite sayings is, “a tired dog is a good dog.”

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