Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Aero

Aero was adopted at the end of April but I wanted to finally share his story here. Mostly to show how much work Animal House puts into the dogs that they rescue.

My year didn’t start out the way I had hoped. I got sick in January and even after the crud finally cleared up in February, I just couldn’t get back to normal. Any extra physical exertion, stress, or even a long day of work would leave me feeling like I was run over by a truck. I still don’t know exactly what it was. Possibly mono, over training syndrome, or some mix of both? I didn’t start to feel normal again until mid-April. I scrapped my racing plans for the beginning of the year and dropped out of the New Orleans Marathon and the Pocatello 50. I wasn’t sure when or even if I would be able to get back to racing this year.

Fortunately I met Aero in February and he gave me a new project to focus on. If I couldn’t run, I could at least be productive just getting him out to work on his training.

The first time I took Aero out, we could barely make it across the street. He was extremely reactive to everything – even leaves blowing in the wind would send him into a frenzy. He was especially reactive towards cars and had flunked out of his last foster placement after he escaped and tried to attack car tires …while they were moving. Most dogs will relax and settle down as soon as they get out of the shelter and start running. But Aero just kept getting worked up into more and more of a frenzy. He pushed into the gentle leader hard enough to make his gums bleed and any time a car went by, he’d thrash around like a fish on a hook. I tried redirecting him with treats but he just wasn’t responding. He wouldn’t refocus on anything and just kept hyperventilating, working up a froth of bloody drool. So I cut my run short with him and retreated back to the shelter.

Aero was a mess. Most shelters wouldn’t hesitate to put a dog like Aero down. Even at a no-kill shelter, he could have easily ended up in the small percentage of dogs who just can’t be rehabilitated and saved. He’s extremely lucky to have ended up at Animal House. They have dozens of other volunteers just like me who put in many hours of time with each of their dogs. And they have a full team of Canine Coach trainers organized by Cathie Lee from K9 Wisdom.

Aero on our second day out at Lory State Park.

Aero on our second day out at Lory State Park.

The next day I went back to try again and decided to take him out to Lory Park where we could get away from cars and people. For most of our run, he behaved like a perfectly happy, normal dog. We ran into Kristel and Rob on the back side of Arthur’s Rock and he barked, jumped, and snapped in the air …not a great way to make new friends. He had a couple more reactive episodes with deer on the trail and some hikers and their dog near the trailhead. But overall the outing was a success. Aero had some real potential …if only I could take him out to remote trails every day.

Unfortunately getting him to and from Lory Park was almost impossible. I spent 20 minutes trying to lure him into my car at the shelter before a car pulled out of the parking lot and scared him into jumping in. I didn’t have the same help parked at an empty trailhead at Lory Park. I spent almost an hour with half a bag of cheddar sun chips to lure him back in. So transporting Aero away from the shelter wasn’t going to be a practical solution on a regular basis.

I tried running him around the fields and streets around the shelter but it was incredibly difficult to make any progress. At best, Aero was always tense and on high alert ready to react to anything. Getting anywhere on the streets took forever stopping every couple minutes to try to redirect his focus from traffic with treats, changing directions, and doing downs and sits. On one particularly bad day, after taking about 20 minutes to make it a mile away from the shelter, I decided to end our run early and head back. It took 40 minutes to cover the same mile on the way back stopping to sit and practice redirecting Aero’s focus literally every two steps.

Since we weren’t making much progress during the day, I changed my schedule to start taking him out after dark. I could pick him up at the shelter just after sunset and we’d be able to get out around the fields and ponds behind the shelter just after the regular evening dog walkers cleared out for the night. Without distractions, Aero was a completely different dog. Once we got moving, he’d calm down after the first mile. After two miles, he would noticeably relax. His shoulders dropped and his ears would flop down and he’d lope along with his tongue hanging out like any normal, happy dog.

This worked pretty well until daylight savings time. Aero had made significant progress but wasn’t quite ready to handle the full crowd of off leash after-work dogs so we switched to running in the mornings when it wasn’t as crowded. We were able to find plenty of space on our own and gradually start encountering other people and dogs. Unfortunately our mornings out around the ponds didn’t last long. The area is private property but has been an unofficial local off leash area for a long time. Evidently the property owners decided to put an end to this and put up barbed wire fences and no trespassing signs. So Aero and I were stuck heading back out onto the streets again.

Aero working with Animal House's Advanced Canine Coaches. (Photo by K9 Wisdom Training)

Aero working with Animal House’s Advanced Canine Coaches. (Photo by K9 Wisdom Training)

During this time, Aero was getting even more work through the Animal House Canine Coaching program. While I was out running Aero in the evenings and mornings, Cathie’s Canine Coaches would come in during the day to put Aero through even more structured training exercises.

Aero soaked up all of the training like a sponge. Underneath all of his issues he was actually an incredibly smart and affectionate dog. His attachment to any volunteer who worked with him was intense. With just a little bit of attention, he would just melt and try to crawl into your lap. In the right home, he had the potential to be an amazing dog.

We still had some good days and bad days. But on most bad days, I realized it was really me that was having a bad day. It took a lot of patience to work with Aero and if I was just the slightest bit too tired or frustrated. But week over week, Aero continued to improve. Aero’s reactions were limited to just the big scary trucks and buses and obnoxious dogs that we encountered.

A big break through. Aero just chilling out at the gas station parking lot as a huge dump truck rolled by.

A big break through. Aero just chilling out at the gas station parking lot as a huge dump truck rolled by.

At the end of March, Aero had made enough progress that it seemed like it might be possible to run him in the new 5k race that Animal House was organizing in May. I was recovered enough to be able to run short 3-5 mile easy jogs on a regular basis but was still in no shape to consider getting back to my normal trail running. So this seemed like a worthwhile goal for both of us to work towards.

I introduced Aero to my own dog Baxter to practice running with another dog.

Aero meeting Baxter.

Aero meeting Baxter.

Aero and Baxter running together.

Aero and Baxter running together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With some advice from Kim and Cathie, I managed to get Aero into my car.

Aero finally getting in the car!

Aero finally getting in the car!

It still took a long line and a ton of treats to lure him in but at least I could reliably transport him places. Once he could ride in the car, I started taking him to our Tuesday night social runs at Reservoir Ridge. The first night out we had to split away from the rest of the group but he gradually got used to the other runners and dogs.

Kim and I teamed up to take Aero and Jessie out to the Reservoir Ridge social run.

Kim and I teamed up to take Aero and Jessie out to the Reservoir Ridge social run.

Aero enjoyed our snowy social run out at Reservoir Ridge.

Aero enjoyed our snowy social run out at Reservoir Ridge.

Aero loved playing in the snow!

Aero loved playing in the snow!

Since I wasn’t actually racing the Horsetooth Half Marathon this year, I decided to use the event as a final training test before taking Aero out to his first 5k at the Fast and the Furriest. I had assumed that we’d jog down to Lee Martinez to watch the runners coming down the bike path to the finish, do a few training exercises, and then retreat back to the shelter whenever it became too much for Aero to handle. Instead we jogged right down to the race and jumped right in on the bike path running back and forth pacing Katie, Alex, Cat, and Mary in the final mile to the finish. After we ran with Mary, we headed down to the finish line and walked right through the crowd and spent the rest of our time hanging out with friends in the beer garden listening to Slush’s ska band play. I can’t tell you just how amazed I was at how well Aero did at the race. It was awesome!

Aero hanging out in the crowd at the Horsetooth Half finish line.

Aero hanging out in the crowd at the Horsetooth Half finish line.

Aero hanging out in the beer garden listening to ska.

Aero hanging out in the beer garden listening to ska.

Aero making friends with Cat.

Aero making friends with Cat.

Aero really likes to give hugs.

Aero really likes to give hugs.

Yup, the former crazy dog is just a big baby.

Yup, the former crazy dog is just a big baby.

The next weekend, we successfully ran the Fast and the Furriest 5k. Aero was the 2nd overall dog and if I had been in better shape, I’m sure he could have been the 1st dog. He was fantastic the entire time and handled the crowd at check in, the mob at the start, and the excitement of chasing other runners and dogs perfectly.

Aero won a bag of doggie treats for placing 2nd at the Fast and the Furriest 5k.

Aero won a bag of doggie treats for placing 2nd at the Fast and the Furriest 5k.

I never got to run the Animal House 5k. The day after the Fast and the Furriest, Aero met his new mom. I met her on Sunday for a short jog around the park and it was a perfect match. She came back and took him home for good the very next day. The last I heard, he was doing extremely well. His mom has been teaching him new tricks, has taken him hiking, and has been training him to run along next to her bike. I can’t think of a better match for a perfect home.

Since then, I’ve started Cathie Lee’s Canine Coaching program and really look forward to helping more dogs like Aero. I’ve managed to get myself back into shape to start the Hardrock 100 this week. But I’m still not in any shape to race competitively and I’m not sure if I really want to put all of my time and effort into racing. If I can run on a regular basis and help more shelter dogs, I think I’ll be pretty happy.

 

Shelter dogs

I’ve finally found time to put together a full photo album of most of the dogs I’ve run with. So far I’ve only taken the time to post info about a few of the dogs who have needed the most help finding homes. The dogs I’ve run with the most have usually been the ones who needed the most help with exercise, training, and socialization.

But the vast majority of the dogs who come through the shelter are perfectly good dogs. Fortunately there are really very few true rescue cases from extreme abuse or neglect. And even these dogs are surprisingly good dogs who really don’t really need therapy or rehabilitation – they just need a good home. Most shelter dogs are dumped by people who don’t want to take the time to train or exercise their dog. And it never ceases to amaze me how many perfectly well trained and socialized dogs end up at the shelter. Anyone with a little patience could easily adopt a dog already trained better than they could train a dog they raised themselves.

I’ll write more about a few good ones who are still available later. And this next year, I plan to do a better job collecting photos.

 

701 Miles for Animal House

I made it through the month and couldn’t be happier about the results. For my own running, I exceeded all of my goals for mileage, vertical, and speed and remained injury free and healthy.

We’ve raised $2,555.54 for Animal House …and there may be additional company matching funds that will bump this total up even more once they are confirmed later this week. I originally figured I’d bring in a few hundred bucks for the shelter so this completely blew away my expectations.

701 Miles beat my previous largest month by 200.5 miles.
91,240 Feet beat my previous highest month by 1573 feet. And that was my best month of training for the Hardrock 100!
30 sub 6 minute miles may have been more than I’ve run in the entire past year. And my last mile was a new PR on the Pineridge mile and second fastest mile ever in 5:10.
143 Miles run with the Animal House dogs
100.25 Miles with Baxter
62 Miles with Sheba

Rocky, Joah, Harley, and Alphie are just a few dogs I’ve run with who found new homes this month.

I’m pretty tired right now and am ready for a rest and recovery week. But I don’t feel in the least bit over trained and a couple nagging tendon pains on my Achilles and knee that have bothered me for months are gone now. Overall, running 701 miles this month hasn’t been too bad – it just took some extra motivation to get up for early weekday runs, stay out a bit later each evening, and put the long hours in on the weekends to get it done. Fortunately, I have an incredible group of friends who came out to run with me almost every day this past month. We’ve also had the most amazing weather with clear, dry trails and sunshine almost every day. It seems like summer has arrived early here on the front range. And in the past week, Mary, Mindy, Kristel, Alex, and Jennifer have all helped treat me to dinner every day of the week. So I can’t really say this has been much of an ordeal. If I didn’t need to balance my time with a full time job and a new 50 mile race to direct, I’d do this again in April.

The meadows below Greyrock. Spending time out on these trails in this weather sure didn't suck. (Photo by Kevin Hurd)

It’s been fun watching the donation numbers grow throughout the month and it’s been nice to see people get involved. In addition to donations, several people have considered volunteering. And thanks to Slush, we now have about 20 Otter Box employees putting their company fund raising incentives to use for Animal House which puts them in the running for a very generous bonus donation from Otter Box.

The latest report of pledges is included below. Here are the options for final payments.

  1. Submit your donation online here.
  2. Mail your check to:
    Animal House Rescue & Grooming
    1104 W Vine
    Fort Collins, CO 80521
  3. Hand off your donation to me this week if it’s more convenient. I’ll be out at the usual Tuesday social run and Thursday Towers Time Trial.

Checks can be made out to Animal House Rescue & Grooming. If you send your donation directly, you can make a note that it is for my March Madness Run and email me at pete@k9runner.com to confirm. Some people have already submitted donations and rounded up and I’d like to keep track of the actual final total – every bit counts to help Animal House win the bonus donation from Otter Box.

Additional 501(c)3 info and tax ID for Animal House are online here if you need it..

After a few days of rest and recovery and some much needed down time to catch up on miscellaneous things like laundry and grocery shopping, I’m looking forward to getting back to work with more focused training for the Colorado Marathon and Bighorn 100.

And there is still more work to do to find Ross, Titan, Lilly, Scout, Samantha, and my favorite here, Ashley homes.

Relaxing with Ashley at the Animal House Anniversary BBQ today. (Photo by Kevin Hurd)

March – Final Weekend

It’s down to the last two days and I only have 71 more miles to go to hit 700.

As of the end of day today, pledges are up to $1831.09 and there are still a few bonuses left to get by Saturday.

Tomorrow I plan to finish up the last of my vertical on Greyrock and depending on how many miles I get in on the hill, I’ll have about 50 miles left to finish on Saturday. For my final day this month, I plan to just run from Animal House to run laps with the dogs until I’m done. I’ll start the day at 7:30am when they open and will take Scout out for a longer solo run first. So any time after about 10am, I’ll just be running loops around the ponds behind the shelter. This will be the easiest way to break up the day and get out with as many different dogs as possible. And if anyone wants to drop in and run a few miles with me, I’ll be easy to find since I’ll be within 2-3 miles of the shelter at all times.

I’ll tally up the final pledges Saturday evening or Sunday morning and will follow up with more details to collect payments. Anyone who has pledged donations can send checks directly to Animal House, donate online, or give me the donation to bring to Animal House sometime in the next week.

On Sunday Animal House is hosting their 5th Anniversary Celebration BBQ. I plan to be at the BBQ ….not running. Event info is on the Animal House Facebook page here. I would love to see anyone who has supported me this month out for a run on Saturday or anytime at the BBQ on Sunday.

And mark your calendars for Scott’s benefit concert on April 9th. The Swashbuckling Doctors will be playing at Avo’s at 6:30pm.

Week Ending March 18th

Ok, so it’s actually the 19th. I was just too tired to post anything by the official end of the week.

I think as of today, I’m starting to get tired. Thanks to Slush, I managed to get out for an easy jog this morning with Baxter and Sheba and at least got my legs moving. But after work, I was still completely wiped out and cut my evening run short to take a little extra recovery time.

As of today, I’ve run 400.5 miles with 50,133 vertical feet. Total pledges so far are up to $792.20!

This last week started off pretty well. I was tired and definitely a bit slower than usual but most of the week really felt just like any other normal training week. On Tuesday I managed to get a decent speed workout in and cost Celeste another $3 in sub 6 minute miles. On Thursday I made it over to Horsetooth to run a good set of repeats on the rock trail with Steph. And I even managed to squeeze in some weight training.

The incredible warm spring weather we’ve had this last week is probably the reason I managed to get through the week so easily. Every morning has been warm with an incredible sunrise. And each evening I’ve been out, I haven’t had any trouble staying out on the trails just a little bit longer each day.

Tuesday evening at Reservoir Ridge with Scout.

The weekend started off with the Sharin’ O’ the Green 5k at O’Dells in Old Town. Celeste and I each took a dog from Animal House. Friday morning, we ran with several dogs to try to find the best match up for the race and decided that I would run with Ashley and Celeste would run with Joah.

Celeste with Titan and Ashley.

I had a chance to run with Ashley a few weeks ago and initially I thought she might be a bit difficult since we didn’t really seem to connect. But after working with her this weekend, she’s one of my all time favorites. She’s fairly quiet and reserved and I think she just takes a little longer to warm up to people. She is really very sweet and eager to please. I’m surprised that she hasn’t been adopted yet.

When we arrived at race check in, the O’Dells parking lot was packed. They sold out the race with 1,000 more runners than last year’s race and the parking area where the start/finish was staged was about half the size they really needed for such a large crowd. Ashley seemed a bit nervous but handled it all pretty well and stayed glued to my leg the entire time. Since this was my first time at a race with Ashley, I decided not to get up in front on the starting line and Celeste and I thought we might be able to just squeeze by the timing mat off to the side of the crowd. We were only about 20 feet back and off to the side of the starting line but after the gun went off, it still took me almost half a minute to get to the timing mat. From the start, we were stuck in the crowd and had to walk to the 50 yards out of the parking lot to the road where I thought we might be able to find some space on the outside of the lane. Unfortunately they only sectioned off half a lane and had volunteers telling everyone to say inside the cones. Ashley and I had to cut and weave our way back across the crowd to find an open spot to run on the grassy incline on the side of the drainage ditch. It took us the first half mile before we could really start running and even after that we had to dart and weave our way through traffic until the last half mile to the finish. I was amazed at how well Ashley ran. She could have run faster and pushed the pace the entire time but never got out of control to pull too hard. And she didn’t have any problem dodging and weaving through heavy traffic. Our first mile ended up being pretty slow at 6:31. I pushed the second mile as hard as I could – I was determined to get at least 1 more dollar from Celeste out of this race. Ashley and I ran the 2nd mile in 5:49. By the 3rd mile my legs were burning but we were running back against the crowd of walkers and joggers at the back of the field and people were yelling that we were the second dog. So I pushed a little harder to see if we might catch them. We ran the 3rd mile in 5:50 and crossed the finish in 19:08 just 23 seconds behind the lead dog. The race didn’t have any awards for dogs but I was still pretty happy with Ashley’s second place finish. With a better position on the starting line, that other dog wouldn’t have had a chance.

Ashley and I kicking it into the 5k finish. (Photo by Kevin Hurd)

It was really after the race where Ashley really got to be a star. After regrouping with some of the other FCTR runners, we headed over to the St Patrick’s Day Parade to walk with the Animal House team. (And no I didn’t log this in my mileage). It was crowded, hot, and noisy and the streets were a gauntlet of little kid’s grabby hands. This would be a nightmare for most dogs but Ashley wasn’t in the least bit phased by all the commotion. Any time kids would ask to pet the dogs, she would stand or sit down calmly. I was really amazed at how well behaved and tolerant she was. She still needs her fair share of training work just like any other young dog but whoever adopts her and puts the time and effort into working with her is going to end up with an incredible dog.

Ashley working the crowd at the St Patrick's Day parade.

Showing the kids how to pet a dog nicely.

Joah bonked by mile 2 of the 5k so Celeste let him ride up on the float.

After the parade, I made it back over to the shelter to get Scout out for a nice 10 mile run. Overall, it was a pretty good holiday for the dogs!

It looks like Ross has finally found a home but Ashley, Joah, Titan, Scout, and many others are still available. The best news of this week is that Harley is going home with a couple of our local ultra runners. I can’t think of a nicer couple to adopt her.

So that was only Saturday ….Sunday was an even bigger day with our annual FCTR March Madness run around the reservoir. Scott and I decided to meet at my place to get a few bonus miles in before the start. We wanted to get in at least 40 miles and needed all the time we could get.

You can find a bunch of other great posts about the FCTR MM Run from Alex, Nick, Ryan, Rob, and I’m sure a few others who I haven’t found yet.

I’m exhausted just thinking about the day but to sum it up, it was another fantastic day. I ran into a bunch of good friends and some new runners along the way. And the May’s were excellent hosts as usual with an awesome BBQ potluck gathering after the run.

FCTR on the Stout trail. Starting the day with a fun social run.

Scott staring out strong charging up Audra Culver to Horsetooth Rock.

Nice view of Longs Peak from the south ridge of Horsetooth.

Zeke, Burch, and Nick catching up with us on Horseooth Rock.

Still having fun on the way to Arthur's Rock.

Steph - just stretching. Ugh.

The last hill of the day. On top of the A behind the stadium.

Scott in Pineridge just 1 mile from Alex's house. This pretty much sums up how we felt at the end of the run.