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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

New Approach

So close!

I managed to get out of bed by 6:15 this morning, and it felt great. Eventually.

My body was still fighting this whole endeavor of mine, but I managed to stay awake long enough to get my feet on the ground, and once that's done, it's just about staying in motion. I got dressed, had a good stretch and then went back into the bedroom to get the pup.

Even with the recent trouble she's caused me, I haven't given up on running with the dog yet. I've just got to make it more of a consistent event so that she gets used to it and, hopefully, gets excited about it. Since I don't have any runs over 4 miles this week, I thought I'd take her out a couple times to see if she'd come around at all.

We've tried several different products when it comes to taking our little pup for walks, to varying degrees of success. At first, we tried a rear-hooking harness, which evidently is a very bad idea for dogs that like to pull. Though it holds better than a collar, it actually encourages the pet to pull forward, unless you have a limitless supply of time and patience to keep them from doing that. I do not have these things, so on our trainer's advice, we tried a couple different methods. One is a shoulder harness that hooks in the front. This way, if the dog pulls at all, the harness forces them to change direction, which discourages the behavior. That's been pretty good for walks.

The other thing we tried is called a gentle leader. It looks like a muzzle, but it does not work like one. It hooks around the dog's nose and mouth and around the neck, but it doesn't restrict any mouth movement. The dog can still bark, eat, lick, and do all the things that a muzzle would prohibit. What makes it effective is that the leash actually hooks under the dog's chin, which means that if the dog pulls, her head is directed toward who or whatever is anchoring the leash.

This last device was recommended for workout days. It keeps the dog focused on what we're doing, and (hopefully) keeps her from weaving in and out of legs or wheels or anything like that. The downside is that our little boxer hates it. This is, of course, because it does exactly what it is supposed to do. She'd rather be running amok, chasing other dogs and having no regard for the world around her. When she pulls against the leader, it can get tighter, which only makes her hate the thing more. It has done wonders for her ability to walk with us, but on the runs, she's starting to get rebellious.

So, I decided that I would just try her other harness today, to see if that got her more interested in the run. For the first quarter mile, she was absolutely insane, doing all the things the gentle leader is designed to prevent. It was much more difficult to control her, but she seemed happier. Then, for about half a mile, she was doing her usual routine of pulling back and actively showing disinterest.

Right about the moment when I decided it was hopeless, she broke into a run and stayed next to me for the rest of the workout. It was just that sudden, and I was really happy. Even stopping for traffic and restarting was easier. I'll try with the harness again on Thursday, and hopefully I've got my running buddy back.

We ran a little slower, but there were a few, uh, business stops along the way which affected the time a bit, and to be honest, I wasn't really concerned about time at all. The important thing is that I keep the legs moving this week, and anything beyond that is just icing on the cake. Really, it was one of the more enjoyable pup runs I've had so far.

The only downside was that it was surprisingly hot. At 6:30am, when I made it out the door, it was already 62 degrees and humid. The weather in general has been pretty volatile down here, yo-yoing from 75 to 20 and back a few times. We've had snow, rain, and I think a little sleet at one point, and as we get closer to race day, I start to get a little more nervous about the weather.

As of an hour ago, they were still predicting thunderstorms. Now, it's saying a high of 72, low of 57 and cloudy. A little warmer than perhaps we'd like, but definitely doable. I'm not getting my hopes up just yet, though. I won't really trust the forecast until Saturday.

But I'll still be watching.

Today's Run:
62 Degrees / Humid
4.12 Miles
33 Minutes, 32 Seconds

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