I dropped the hint earlier, but can now officially announce the newest addition to our family, and my newest running companion, Looper! We’ve had her a little over a week now, and she is well on her way to being a faithful endurance athlete at my side for even my longest training runs. A little training, plenty of treats, and some positive reinforcement and she’ll be able to pull me along for 25 and 30 mile runs with no problem.
Shortly after I began running, I began thinking about how nice it would be to have a dog I could run with around town. I watched as numerous friends brought their faithful companions to our group runs, and loved the energy the dogs added to the run. I’m always amazed at how effortless they make it look while the person they are dragging along is probably running a good 20 to 30 seconds faster than they would otherwise. Now, I love our puggle, Baxter, like no other, but puggles really aren’t built for running. He’s a wonderful lap dog, and he will cuddle you until you can’t take it anymore, but running is not among his many talents.
I remember reading several years ago in an issue of Runner’s World about the best dogs for running. Even then, vizslas struck me as beautiful, intelligent dogs who could go the distance. They are capable of great distance, fast pace, running on technical trails, and they are incredibly trainable. As it turns out, the beautiful epicurean had long wanted a Vizsla as well for their trainability and energy.
Sometimes, fate truly does deal you a strong hand. I happen to have a running friend who breeds and trains vizslas for hunting competitions, and I had mentioned my love of the breed when we had first met. About a month ago, she sent me a message to see if we would be interested in a two-year old female. She had been training for competition and had been doing pretty well, but her love of humans seemed to outweigh her desire to track down birds, and she was a bit gun-shy as well. However, she was a strong runner, and a very happy and loving dog. She happens to come from a line of amazing champion dogs as well.
There is definitely plenty of training in our future, both around the house and as she runs on a leash (she’s accustomed to running off-leash out in the country), and she hasn’t fully settled into her new life, partially because she happens to be in heat at the moment. We’ve already been hitting the road though, and it’s been such a different experience having her along for the ride. I can already tell that it will be a new challenge to continue to pay attention to my own form while paying attention to her at the same time. However, in time, I’m hoping we’ll end up in sync, stride for stride, and it will be no different from anyone else running next to me.