There’s nothing better than coming home after another trying day of life itself, only to be greeted by a wagging tail and sloppy kisses the minute you cross over the threshold. When the rest of the world seems out of place and cruel, it’s nice to know you can come home to an animal that passes no judgement and doesn’t care if your hair looks awful, your clothes don’t fit or you’re just having a total bitchy day. While any other human in the world might think you’re a hot mess, dogs will forever think you’re the most wonderful person on the face of the planet.
My dog, Dixie, is no different. Although there are times when she chews my socks or the corners of our throw pillows, ultimately she never fails at turning my frown upside down. For a long time, I couldn’t get over her energy. Being an English Pointer, she’s born to hunt and run for miles and miles on end. Tiring her out is nearly impossible. Don’t get me wrong, she can be a bigger couch potato than my husband and I put together, but when she has pent up energy…look out!
Since I’ve taken up running, I wanted to find a way to include her. In the past, I had tried holding the leash, but running isn’t enjoyable when you’re arm is being tugged out of it’s socket because you’re dog wants to go faster and you are in no where near as good of shape as your pet (sad to admit it). I would get so frustrated trying to keep her from dragging me down the street. I tried harnesses, I tried gentle leaders, I tried it all. Finally, I got frustrated and called it a day and went for my runs solo.
Then I found this lovely device called a hands-free leash. Basically, it’s a belt that goes around your waist and allows the dog’s leash to attach to it. This allows you to pump your arms or change the song on your ipod without having to putz around with a leash in your hand. Also, you have more leverage if your dog does decide to yank you down the street. There are many types online and range from $20-30 dollars on average. Some have bungee cord-like attachments to further prevent pulling. Mine hooks up to my retractable leash and I use a no-pull harness which seems to be a perfect combination, along with the belt.
This makes running with my dog a breeze and I’m now enjoying her company and learning from her in ways I could never have imagined. Watching her prance down the sidewalk and stopping only momentarily to look at the occasional squirrel or goose in the parks; I see her in her element and I remember all of the reasons I began to run.
Of course, I want to be in shape, but there’s a freeing quality about hitting the pavement. There’s a connection being built between myself, the dog and the world around me. I’m not thinking about what I need to do tomorrow or the next day. I’m not concerned with homework or housework, bills or paychecks. My mind is dedicated to the moment itself.
When I come home and I am not in the mood for a run, I see my dog laying on the couch looking at me with eyes that are begging to go sniff some random patch of grass and stretch her long, gangily legs. Suddenly, I’m motivated to lace up my shoes. These are usually the days when I forgive myself if I’m not reaching any kind of PR or going quite as hard as I planned. I remember to relax and in the end I find another reason to run…because I love it as much as my dog does.
To find out if you’re dog is a natural born runner or which dogs make the best companions for your running lifestyle, check out the article on Runner’s World. According to this, my dog is capable of runs over 10 miles which isn’t surprising for anyone who has seen this dog run free.