Running with Rocket

I went out on my first volunteer run for Animal House (www.animalhousehelp.org) and met Rocket today. Until he finds a permanent home, I plan to take Rocket out running at least once or twice per week.

My dogs are the reason that I originally started running and over the past few years, I’ve found that regular exercise has significantly improved their behavior and temperament. But Baxter and Sheba are getting a bit too old to keep up with me every day and only join me for a few short, easy recovery jogs around our local natural areas. So volunteering for the Animal House shelter seemed like a great way to put some of my running time to good use. The shelter dogs are all well taken care of and get to go out on regular walks. But for many dogs, a simple walk just isn’t enough exercise. Getting them out for a real run a couple times per week should help them cope with the stress of living at the shelter. And with more handling and exposure to the outside world, I hope to help improve their manners and behavior and ultimately make it easier to find them a permanent home.

Rocket is an awesome running dog. He’s a medium sized Greyhound/Collie mix and is built for serious running – large enough to go the distance but thin and not too heavy to (hopefully) avoid problems with joins and pads. And he has a medium coat which should be ideal for running year round in our cold winters and hot summers. He’s a gorgeous brown brindle with a very sweet, friendly personality.

I let Rocket take the lead long enough to get a full photo here.

We ran 7.5 miles today around the ponds behind the shelter and out and back on the Poudre bike path. As his name suggests, he took off like a rocket from the start. And I won’t lie, my right arm is a bit tired. But after a couple miles he finally settled into pace to run with me and by the end of the run he was running right next to me or slightly behind me on a slack leash. He’ll need an owner who can offer both exercise and firm leadership but he learns quickly and was very easy to work with. He does get distracted easily by bikers, hikers, dogs, cars, or good looking sticks. But a quick reminder and a tug on the leash usually gets him back on track. If that fails, he is very good at sitting. Halfway through the run, he was extremely excited about some horses on the other side of the fence so we stopped for a short break and I had him sit facing away from the horses. After a short sitting break and scratch behind the ear, he completely lost interest in the horses and we continued on our run.

Rocket is very good at sitting.

As far as I could tell, there really isn’t anything wrong with Rocket. He needs some regular exercise to reduce his energy and anxiety levels and just like any other dog, he’ll need some consistent leadership to learn proper manners. But he didn’t have any noticeable issues that I’m used to seeing from almost every rescue I’ve owned in the past. The shelter says that his isn’t good with children but we ran past several children on the bike path without any reaction.

After a couple miles Rocket ran right beside me on a slack leash. He pays attention very well and is easy to work with.

At the end of our run, Rocket was slightly tired but I suspect he could have gone out and run another 10 miles without any problem. We ran at a brisk pace along the bike path and a 7-8min mile was a pretty comfortable cruise for him. Hopefully Rocket will find a permanent home very soon. But if he’s still at the shelter next month, I’d love to race him for a PR at the Fast and the Furriest 5k.

If anyone wants to meet Rocket, I plan on bringing him out to our next Tuesday social run at Reservoir Ridge. Otherwise you can stop in or contact Animal House for more info. His adoption profile is online here: http://www.petango.com/Adopt/Dog-Collie-Rough-12229255

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