Living Well – Need a reason to walk or run? Get a dog

Wayne Little's monthly column on fitness motivation and nutrition.

A month or so ago our family took ownership of a dog. Her name is Brandy, she’s a border collie cross with A LOT of energy. Our last dog, which was a german shepherd lived for 13 years. Even though in her final years she didn’t have the stamina to go very far anymore, she needed a walk every single day. Just like we do, every day we are supposed to exercise.

When we first got Brandy, the kids and I took her for a walk down to the end of the slough and back, it was a great family affair and all of us got some exercise. A new routine was instantly started for us to take her out and get our exercise.

Owning a dog can force you outside for that walk so Brandy, or Shadow, or whatever your dog’s name is, can get its – and your – daily fitness. Your dog will be happier after its walk, and healthier just like you will be. This a great motivational tool, as they can be very persuasive to get you out the door.

So far our new dog Brandy gets two walks per day. She has already figured out a few times how to get out of the backyard and went on her own walk! (Thank you to our friends for bringing her back.) I’ve been introducing her to running with me, and her longest runs seem to be capped at 10 km. I found this out the day after I took her out for an 11 km run – the next day she hid from me when I was putting on my running shoes.

When walking or running your dog, please use a leash, and bring some poop bags. As a runner, I travel a lot of the same routes on my runs that people are walking their dogs. Although you may know that your dog won’t attack me, some runners are very scared of being bitten. I try to look non-threatening, and most dogs just want to say “Hi”.

Although I don’t recommend it for everyone, I sometimes take Brandy on the leash while riding my bicycle, she seems to like that the most.

Depending on your dog, be sure to protect them from the extremes in temperatures. In the heat of our summers, maybe take them for a walk in the morning or later in the evening. Hydration is important for the longer trips for your dog as well, so bring water for both of you. Brandy has a little harness/ backpack she carries that has a little plastic bowl, and a small water flask for herself. I’ll stop every few km to give her a drink. In the winter, while we don’t get extreme cold, they can freeze their feet, especially on the cold pavement or sidewalks.

Next week we will be making an appointment at the vet for Brandy, so we can do our part to make sure there are no more “Brandys” out there filling up the SPCA and backyards across our country. In the US, 5-8 million unwanted dogs are euthanized every year.

Wayne Little