Jayne and I went to college together. Before we met, a friend said to me, “Have you met Jayne? I feel like maybe you have… You would know if you’ve met Jayne—she’s super goth”.
Jayne is not goth. But. You would know if you’ve met Jayne. I have a theory that anyone who spells “Jayne” with a “y” is rather worth knowing.
The main difference between Jayne and me (other than that I’m better at scrabble) is that she likes animals, while I do not fancy them all that much. Despite this difference, I still respect Jayne. Growing up, I was certain that all big black dogs wanted to kill/eat both me and my cat. Jayne’s dog is the very animal that Young Sarah feared the most.
Anyway, Jayne’s a veterinary student and lives with her dog, Rory, two roommates, two other dogs, and two guinea pigs. Yes –that would be more animals than people. Here’s Jayne’s lovely guest post on running with Rory.
How to Run with A Dog
Sarah asked me to write this article ages ago (edit: not true–blog’s only been in existence for a few weeks) and I’ve been putting it off because… well… I haven’t been running with my dog. Central New York winters can be a bit brutal and I’ve been forced to exercise indoors, but we just had a recent warm streak and I was able to take the pup out for a run.
I have a generic black dog named Rory. Part of the reason I got her was to have someone to exercise with and she is a great running buddy. That being said, there are a few precautions that I needed to take and a few adjustments to my running style that needed to be made before I could safely take her out.
First and foremost, I learned that you should never run with your pup until he or she has finished growing – just like in people, repetitive pounding motion on growing bones can lead to orthopedic abnormalities. Rory is about 65 pounds and I didn’t start taking her out until she was ten months old. Smaller dogs mature faster than large breed dogs; if you’re unsure about whether your pup is done growing check with your vet.
As is clear, Rory is black and not very easy to see in the dark, so I made her a running vest. You can shop around for reflective vests for dogs – hunting and sporting good stores sometimes have one or two styles – but I ended up purchasing a human running vest and turning it into a dog vest. A reflective vest is a must for your dog without sidewalks, regardless of time of day.
Which brings up the point of where to run. Rory is not particularly afraid of cars, but she does jump when they go speeding by. I’ve had to adjust my running route to include only roads with large shoulders or low speed limits. I like to be able to safely run with Rory by my side when cars come down the road, rather than having her in front or behind me. If Rory and I run on trails I still keep her on a leash – she has a fairly high prey drive and her recall leaves something to be desired.
And, finally, speed. Rory is much faster than me. Much much faster. If you’re running with a dog that is pulling you, you will run asymmetrically; my arm that is holding her leash is always extended and tense. I had tried tying the leash around my waist, but it only hurt my back, so I ended up trying a different collar and finally settled on a prong collar. We were running with a gentle leader for months, but she grew wise to it and started pulling again. I don’t like harnesses on dogs for long runs – I worry about them not fitting perfectly and leading to sores on the thorax. The prong collar was a godsend – Rory keeps a small amount of tension on the leash, but is no longer pulling me down the road. A word of caution with prong collars – they don’t hurt the dog, but they do look very frightening. Rory is presumably a pit mix, so I tie a bandana around her neck to make her look less scary (so that children like Young Sarah don’t continue to fear Big Black Dogs quite as much).
Rory, like many dogs, is a great running buddy. She helps me run farther and faster than I otherwise would and has helped me become a more conscientious runner. One of these days I’m going to purchase a reflective vest for myself and then we’ll match during our romps around the neighborhood. Until then, we both run naked. In order to match.
Now to take advantage of Sarah’s readership with a purely selfish item: my grandmother, Hildegard, knits children’s sweaters literally all day long. I have over twenty in my house and my parents have over one hundred in their tiny NYC apartment. I just set up an etsy store for her sweaters so we can get them out into the world, so please check it out (unfortunately, no reflective dog sweaters yet, but I’ll work on her…).