Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Running With Dogs

In all my posts about running (this morning's was amazing, by the way), I've done very little mentioning of the dogs; how it's affected them physically, mentally, emotionally.  Part of this is because I really only run with Cody.  The last time I went out with more than one dog I tripped over one of them and broke my toe (also a reason why I no longer run in Vibrams).  The other reason is that I've just been kind of me-centric.  There have been lots of new things to report about my running, but not much has changed with Cody.  Or rather, the things that have changed with me regarding time / distance / etc. are the same changes with Cody.  But, it's time to talk about the dogs. 

First, we are fulfilling the basic need for exercise.  Some dogs can only walk about two blocks (Ellwood), but other dogs can run for miles (think Weimaraner).  These are the dogs that really benefit from runs.  I notice a huge difference in Cody when we run regularly.  He's calmer, more affectionate, and less feisty.  The structure of running teaches him to follow me a little more, so his walks are better.  It's not just Cody, either.  This morning, Hans decided to join me on his bike while I ran.  I took Cody, and he took one of our fosters, Tina.  Tina is a habitual trouble maker.  She's high energy, inquisitive, and stubborn.  After a 3 mile run, she decided to rest.  I'm pretty sure that's the longest I've seen her on her bed and not in a crate.  This is good!

Physically, it has certainly benefited Cody.  Cody has always been a lean dog.  I've watched his weight like a hawk, and he enjoys running as fast as he can as often as he can (he's hilarious in an open field).  Still, I've worried about his weight.  Sometimes I worry he's too lean, and maybe I should feed him more.  Shortly after I start feeding him more, though, I think he's getting a little chunky and I cut back on his food.  When clients ask me how much they feed their dogs I tell them it's an ever-changing equation.  Basically, start with a certain amount and see how your dog does...then adjust accordingly.  Anyway, the last time I took Cody to the vet, I was nervous.  He seemed like a healthy weight.  I knew he'd put on a couple of pounds since our last visit, but it didn't seem to be fat.  His chest had broadened and he had simply become a more sizable dog.  So, as the vet examined him, I held my breath.  Then she said, "He looks good."  I breathed a sigh of relief.  THEN she said, "He feels REALLY good.  He has a great physique."  I smiled.  Running had not just been helping me, it had been making him stronger too.  That dog was born to run.  Oh, and the number one comment we get on Cody when we have him groomed (besides how cute he is): Holy cow!  Look at the thigh muscles on that dog!  My boy has some strong back legs.

Running with Cody has been going quite well.  I'm so proud of how well he has done, and I really enjoy the bonding time with him.  Running really is our special Mommy-Cody time, and I think he likes that part best of all.  Oh, and for anyone worried that I'm working him too hard, after our 5.15 mi run last Saturday, Cody greeted the other dogs by running as fast as he could around the house and yard.  I guess he needed to release that final bit of energy before it was time to sleep.

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