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Training

The Sprinter in the Family

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Happy beach boy

When I adopted an Australian Shepherd, I assumed he
would develop into a distance runner. But my pup Viggo proved me wrong. He
pretty much refutes every stereotype regarding his natural instincts. As a
herder, he’s a complete failure – his number one objective at the dog park is
to convince other dogs to chase him. He’s a sweet submissive mama’s boy, and I
absolutely love him for his uncharacteristic nature.

While Viggo does like to run with me, his
inclination is toward short and fast jaunts. On the leash, he maxes out at
about four miles before developing doggie ADD. Off-leash, his running stamina
increases, as he’s able to start and stop and explore as he pleases. I carry a Fuel
Belt
, dedicating two bottles for me and two for Viggo, stopping frequently to ensure
he stays hydrated.

The longest I’ve ever run with Viggo was last
summer on the Miwok Trail in Marin. We went for a full hour and a half until,
at the very end of the trail and a mere 500 feet from the car, Viggo flung
himself down and refused to budge. Adding to the comedy was the fact that a
volunteer crew was busy performing trail maintenance, lugging wheelbarrows full
of dirt and rock along the single-track that Viggo now blocked with his
73-pound body. I had no hope of lifting him, but I did manage to push him aside
enough to let the volunteers through. They certainly gave me some odd looks,
wondering, I’m sure, what type of torture I had inflicted upon my poor dog to
make him so tired! I had no choice but to sit and wait patiently for a full
10-15 minutes while Viggo rested. Then, quick as a lick, he popped upright
again and together we trotted back to the car and our cushy ride home.

Nowadays, while I do take Viggo on occasional
longer runs, we have a system that serves us well. We walk and jog and sprint
and explore for 20-30 minutes, then loop back home where I drop him off for his
breakfast, while I head back out to log the longer miles.