My Favorite Running Partner is a Dog Named Jack

Recently, I’ve been spending quite a bit of time with a new running partner. He’s really been an ideal companion because he never complains about the weather (unless it’s really hot) or how far we’ve gone (more = better), and he seems to be able to read my mind when it comes to following a route – he generally knows exactly when to turn, cross the street, or stop for a break without my having to say anything. He loves trail running, particularly a trail down by the Merrimack River that we frequent, and he enjoys a good swim break. What’s more, he’s always ready for a run, and won’t let me hear the end of it if I try to skip one. In fact, on days that I don’t intend to run with him, he often whines to the point where I’m often forced to break down and hit the road.

With every running partner, there are always some quirks that you have to live with, and mine is no different. For example, he loves to swim but he hates puddles, and will stop dead if we encounter one on the road or trail (it’s particularly bad during spring snow-melt here in New Hampshire). This has resulted a number of times in me crashing into him, tripping, and landing in the puddle myself (soaked shoes are no fun when the temperature is in the 30′s). He also has problems keeping a steady pace, preferring rather to sprint ahead, stop, and wait for me to catch up while trail running (I guess he likes to fartlek). Perhaps the most annoying habit that my running partner has is that he can’t seem to understand that we would all be happier if he would take care of all bowel movements before we leave the house. No, he prefers to wait until about 1/4 mile into our runs, where he stops on a dime and relieves himself on the nearest patch of grass (a whole different kind of fartlek). As you can imagine, this is very embarrassing, and I imagine quite comical to watch if you happen to observe him doing his business and me standing nearby cursing under my breath while waiting for him to hurry and finish up.

Quirks aside, my running partner is as loyal as can be, and I’ll hopefully be running with him for years to come. His name is Jack (of the picture shown above), he’s a 90 pound black lab (composed of pure muscle), and he more than anyone else makes sure that I don’t skip out on my runs. For that, and although our relationship does have its rough patches, I will forever love him.

About Peter Larson

This post was authored by Peter Larson. Pete is a recovering academic who currently works as an exercise physiologist, running coach, and writer. He's also a father of three and a fanatical runner with a bit of a shoe obsession. In addition to writing and editing this site, he is co-author of the book Tread Lightly, and writes a personal blog called The Blogologist. Follow Pete on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and via email.



Comments

  1. I just came across this post about running with Jack. I have a golden retriever, a year and eight months old. She’s small for a golden – about 55 pounds. I’ve thought about running with her but I have a heart valve issue. I can run, but I need to keep my heart rate about 75% or less. That may not be fast enough for her. I’m open to thoughts / suggestions about pacing with a dog, building mileage, etc.

    • Pete Larson says:

      My experience is that Jack will run as fast or slow as I do unless he
      spots a cat. Most of the time he’s right by my side just keeping pace.
      Like a human, just build distance very slowly and once the dog is used
      to a routine, it will become second nature.

      Pete

      On Tuesday, November 9, 2010, Disqus

  2. Just ran across your blog from Yelling Stop. Love you running buddy–he’s very similar, albeit it a lot larger, to mine. I take my Beagle and Corgi running. It’s just as good for them as it is for us, especially the hounds and hunting dogs. They’re bred to hunt all day, and if my beagle gets more than just a day or two off, he just gets crazy. Keeps me motivated. 

    • Pete Larson says:

      We now have a beagle in addition to Jack. She’s not run trained yet, but once it cools down a bit I’ll turn her into a runner.

  3. Goatlips says:

    Wolfy (Samoyed/Border Collie) has been on all my runs since I got her in December! link to youtube.com… …She came across a disabled squirrel recently. I shouted, “Leave it!”, but it was too late – instantly it was hanging off her nose, with Wolfy yelping! Left a nasty slice through her nostril as she shook it off, sending it spiralling 5ft in the air. The squirrel was left unharmed, albeit still a cripple.

    • Pete Larson says:

      My dog Jack has issue with cats – every time he sees one, he waits till the
      last second then bolts, virtually riping my arm off in the process.
      Pete

  4. Ann Brennan says:

    I have two dogs I sometimes run with. Misty gets too excited about the run though and tends to knock me over. The last time was pretty bad so she hasn’t gone since. Jackson though is an amazing runner and I love taking him. He is so much more graceful on the trails than he ever is in our house. Great post and I love the picture. Thanks for sharing.

    • Pete Larson says:

      Thanks for the feedback – Jack is a great runner, except when he sees a cat. He’s nearly ripped my arm of on several occasions. There’s nothing quite like a trail run with an unleashed dog!

      • Kyle Steed says:

        Pete. I know exactly how you feel with your arm almost getting ripped off. I have two labs, one black (Samson) and one yellow (Ben). They both go crazy when the spot a squirrel, cat, duck, or really any small mammal (except other dogs, they’re pretty cool about that). I haven’t ever tried trail running with them off the leash. I would love to though.

        BTW – I love your site and have just read your reviews on the Vibram FiveFingers. I just bought a pair for myself and experienced my first run in them this morning. My calves are sore, but in a good way. :)

        Keep up the good work.

        • Pete Larson says:

          Kyle,

          Trail running with Jack off-leash is great, but I’m lucky to live near a
          spot where many dogs walk off-leash so I’m comfortable doing it. He’s also
          good about staying with me. To be honest, my biggest problem now is the
          moon – Jack has a thing about the moon where he nees to bolt as soon as he
          sees it – makes it hard to run with him now with darkness arriving earlier!

          With the Vibrams, they’re a lot of fun, but try to resist pushing too hard
          too fast – I’ve seen a lot of people get hurt doing that. Break in slowly
          and gradually, and make sure your feet have time to adapt. The calf
          soreness will ease quickly, but the feet are the bigger concern (stress
          fractures and the like).

          Thanks for stopping by!

          Pete

  5. Jack sounds a lot like Barney. He always remembered the route we took on our runs and I had to really drag him along for a bit if I decided to change the route to add a little variety. The big difference, other than size of course, was that Barney didn’t care about puddles. His sudden stops were to smell whatever deposits were made by previous dogs, and as with Jack, to leave his own behind. I can clearly remember running in place and yelling at him to HURRY UP…half out of a desire to get going on the run, half out of guilt as I had nothing with me to remove the deposit from some poor homeowner’s lawn.

  6. Oh, forgot to mention. Like the new header!!

  7. I don’t know Jack, but I LOVE him regardless! You are so fortunate to have such a loyal and oh-so-handsome running partner :)

  8. Jeff Mattson says:

    Dog Run Dog is a 10k or 5k race you can run with your dog. If you haven’t heard of it check it out at http://www.dogrundog.com. Registration has opened for the Norwich, Vermont race. Hope to see you there.

  9. 90DayChallengeLee says:

    The best running partner I’ve ever has was also a 90 pound Black Lab named Cinders. Her style was a bit different–run out of sight in front, immediately come running back until out of sight, turn rinse, repeat. She always knew where to go and always came when called. There were some great swimming holes for her too. That was 26 years ago. I got to run my pace and so did he. Summer didn’t phase Cinders one bit, not even in Virginia in August.

    My current running partner is the second best. He’s a mix of Lab, Bernese Mountain Dog and Border Collie according to the test. He’s a Winter dog and loves cross country skiing plus throws snow into the air so he can catch it. Over the course of this year, I’m running again and if I’m slacking off for a day, he follows me around with his nose up my butt pushing me out the door. If I’m going slow or we are hiking, he somewhere off the trail chasing chipmunks but always turns up waiting for me. It I’m going fast, he paces. The heat is much harder on Soup than it ever was on Cinders. As we’ve ramped up the runs, he’s handled 5 miles in the heat here in Worcester County in MA just fine. At almost 7, Soup’s in the best shape of his life.

    It can be quite uncomfortable though if he steps on my foot while running but he hasn’t taken me down. He did cross country skiing though twice this past winter which he’d never done before. He actually stepped on my skiis while crossing over them. Just missed a tree both times.

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