Rosie is our seven-year old Australian Shepherd.
Like any Australian Shepherd worth its kibble, Rosie loves having a job to do. That job often includes yours truly, since a lack of sheep in our neighborhood means that someone has to be herded, and I’m the only one in the house willing to comply.
Usually I will succumb to being rounded up, nipped at the ankle and nudged by a wet nose to the back of the knee throughout the day. But when it’s time for a run, Rosie and I are clearly at odds with one another. What would seem to be a perfect outing for a herding dog and her master often ends badly.
She Doesn’t Want to Stop for Me
I began running later in life, and when I was starting out I wanted a mentor who could assure me that you’re never too old to begin running. It wouldn’t hurt if he/she could also assure me that I wouldn’t die trying.
I found Jeff Galloway and his run-walk interval method, and have loved every minute of working out this way. Say what you will about “walk” having no place in a real runner’s vocabulary. I don’t care. I’m a runner because I run. It doesn’t matter that I add walk breaks in…often.
However, Rosie has an issue with this. Just as she gets into a running groove, I slow down for a walk. So she will keep pushing forward, making me feel like a Biggest Loser to her Jillian Michaels.
To no avail–I’m sticking with Jeff’s program.
I Don’t Want to Stop for Her
Previous scenario, but in reverse. When I’m trying to do the running portion of an interval, Rosie insists that this is the time to stop and make sure that every canine knows that she lives in their neighborhood. Each dog we pass, whether inside a house barking or out on the street sniffing, gets a sassy squirt from Rosie.
I’m sure there is some Pavlovian method that I can implement that will train her to only pee when my interval timer beeps when it is time for me to walk. It’s worth a try.
I tried a standard leash. I tried a retractable leash. I tried various collars. Nothing kept Rosie from choking herself and yanking my arm out of its socket. That is, until we started using a harness. Works like a charm. Because it goes around her chest, it seems to distribute the force of her pull so that it’s not jarring to either one of us.
The only problem is that she hates it (see photo above). She literally rolls her eyes every time I pull it out. The shame of being shackled when your job is to run around being in charge of everything!
Her Herding Instinct is Squelched
Rosie does get to run free at the dog park and pond!!
Rosie knows she was made to run after mammals twice her size and keep them in line, not to drag me up and down the street. She tries to make up for her frustration by chasing after the myriad of squirrels, rabbits and other critters in our neighborhood. Once again, the harness saves both of us from ruin, but leaves Rosie wanting more.
She’s Ashamed of Me
I love to run at night. Because it’s often dark by the time I get outside, I wear a headlight (best Christmas gift ever from my husband!). It’s not the most fashionable thing, so it doesn’t work if you’re very self conscious. Rosie runs to hide as soon as she sees me strap it on. Funny–it has the same effect on my 22-year old daughter.
She Never Knows the Schedule
Because I adore running, I never want to miss a workout. So I fit it in whenever I can. At 6:00 a.m., over my lunch hour or at 8:00 at night. Rosie never knows when she needs to be ready. As a result, she spends the day in a state of constant anticipation, and sometimes wears herself out before we even get going. I think it’s starting to wear on her.
She Gets Gypped on Long Run Days
I’m preparing for a half-marathon, the Galloway way, so I do long runs on the weekend. As much as she likes to run, Rosie is done after about 30 minutes of my shenanigans. So on my longer days, she goes for a walk with Dad. He doesn’t run at all, so Rosie is quick to express her displeasure to me as I try to sneak back in the house hiding my post-run glow.
She Has to Carry Her Own Poop
Just kidding on this one. I can’t do it. I’ve seen the bags that can be attached to the leash and the backpacks that some dogs wear, but I can’t bring myself to do it to her. I don’t know why, since this is the same dog who once came home from doggie day care with a remnant of every other dog on her coat. It’s not like she has cleanliness standards.
But we still keep running together. That is until she throws in the towel, or I start marathoning. Then my husband gets to be the sheep.