Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My Running Coach

There are so many reason I love my running coach.
She never misses a run.
She always believes that I (we) can run father and faster than I do.
She refuses to let me ignore my alarm and sleep through a run.
She's able to shame me for walking or taking a water break with just a glance back at me.
She isn't much into the small talk on a run and just lets the miles speak for themselves.
She meets the last mile of any run with as much enthusiasm as the first mile and then looks forward to the next run.
She understands the importance of rest days, too.
She doesn't care if it's raining or cold or windy or hot or anything - if it's a run day, then it's a run day.
She loves barefoot running but doesn't judge me for taking some time to lace up my shoes and ready my playlist.
She understands that the real purpose of running is finding the joy in each step, something she does from the first step out the door.
She has Frito feet and velvet ears.

This is my running coach:

OK, so she's not really a "coach."  But if it weren't for Zooey, I wouldn't be a runner.  She's one of those "high energy" dogs - even at nearly 5 years old - who needs waaaaaaaaay more than a 30-minute walk each day.  Once I discovered how much happier she seemed and how much calmer and (dare I say it?) how much more mellow she behaved after a good run, I knew I had to keep it up.  Thank goodness I love it!

When my alarm goes off at 4:30 on run days, I am barely cognizant of it, much less moving, before Zooey has sprinted across the room to my side of the bed.  If I don't move fast enough for her liking, she starts howling as a backup for that alarm.  My husband loves it when that happens.
I'm under her watchful eye from that point until the leash comes into play.  Have you ever tried to pee with an excited coonhound staring at you?  I have.
On our runs, Zooey has the ability to sniff new bushes and telephone poles, to bark hello at possible new friends (of the 2- and 4-legged varieties), and to get that much needed exercise.  I have the ability to have some me time, to listen to the music *I* want to listen to, and yes, to get that much-needed exercise.

That I credit Zooey with me becoming a runner makes me feel even worse when I have to leave her home on a race day.  Of course, many races are not dog friendly, so I'd be quickly invited to leave if I were to bring her to one of those events.  But those that are dog-friendly, and there are plenty here in Arizona that are, aren't necessarily an environment that will be good for Zooey.  She likes to bark - a lot (coonhounds are a verbal breed) - and that deep, loud chop mouth that I love so much isn't everyone else's cup of tea (just ask my husband how he feels about it at 4:30 AM).  Regardless of the reason she has to stay behind, I hate seeing that "poor, pitiful pup" look she gives me when it becomes apparent that the leash isn't coming out and that I'll be exiting through the garage instead of the front door.

This face very nearly got a steak to assuage my guilt.
Someday, though, I'm hoping to bring her along for a race - with her enthusiasm, she'll surely help me PR!
I'm so grateful that Zooey came into our lives; not only is she quite possibly the best running companion ever, but, like most scent hounds, she also just loves being with her people, making her, in my estimation, the perfect dog for our family.  She can go for ten miles with me (the farthest I've ever taken her) and then flop down to let HRH use her as a pillow during a multi-species nap time on the landing.

All she asks is for two square meals a day, plenty of ear scratches, and the occasional drink from the hose.

Coonhounds are not sprinters, even though they can outrun someone trying to chase them down easily; they were bred to track raccoons and similar quarry over many miles during a hunt.  This makes them ideal running companions.  I can go two miles or ten (maybe more - we haven't tried it yet) with Zooey, and she never lets me down.  Like me, she sometimes needs to stop and rest and maybe have a sip of water, and I must take into account the fact that she's covered in black and tan fur, but still, she never lets me down.  It's my responsibility, then, to make sure that I don't let her down, either.

(If you think a coonhound would be the perfect running companion for you, too, make sure that you research the breed (click here  and here for a start), and please consider adopting a coonhound from a reputable rescue group - and please feel free to ask me for more information)

Do you run with a furry friend?


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Laura! I know Zooey thinks she's pretty darn cute, too! :)

  2. My husband does. He runs with our 2 chihuahuas. You've met my husband so you know he is not a small man. Now picture him running with two tiny dogs with pink collars. It's pretty funny but the dogs love it so he can't resist.

    1. Awwww, I love it! I'll bet they are happier - and maybe less sassy???? :)

  3. Great post! AKC writer Mara Bovsun has been running with her Leonberger and has posted some good running with dogs articles...I'm going to share this with her!!

    1. Thanks so much, Mary Beth! I can't imagine how intimidating Mara must look when she's running with her LIONS! Haha! Thank you for sharing; if I can help make sure that humans and dogs get their exercise, I'm happy to do so! :)

  4. Awww best blog post ever! I love Zooey dog. I wish I had a running coach too, but Josie can barely get her butt moving down the block before she puts on the brakes fullstop. haha

    1. Hahaha - I can see her doing that, too, Mads. I know that pugs are not runners; and I swear I don't know ANYONE who has a non-stubborn pug. I'm glad you liked the post! :)

  5. Awww! Zooey the running coach! What a sweet pupper. I admire her stamina to run 10 miles with you. I still can't get Daisy to go more than 1.5--although she'd like me to take her on 2 to 3 of those short runs per day. #diva

    1. I don't think she has plans to run that much again soon! She slept for like a week after that. This morning she was in total coach mode - I was so asleep when my alarm went off that it was only because of her that I woke up. No sleeping in for that hound!
      Oh, Daisy... What is it about coonies and their diva-hood? #spoiled