For all his
flaws quirks, and despite his litany of fears, there is one thing that focuses Cooper, gives him confidence, and lets him blow off all that pent-up drive:
Cooper loves to run.
He would run until he dropped, sleep it off, then get up and run some more if we let him. (We don’t.)
Last year, before Lucas, I started the C25K training program with the app on my phone. Of course, the incremental training was for me, not for Cooper. We worked through it together, though, then totally derailed because I de-prioritized running when we were dealing with Lucas and moving. Fast forward to this winter, and John and I started to run at an indoor track. He decided to set his sights on marathon training (um… no, thanks…), and I set mine on getting back to finishing a 5k.
Which we did last weekend! (Yes, I turn that shade of red every time I run. Sometimes even redder if the temp is above, say, 60 degrees!)
Now that spring has sprung, we’re back to running outside with Cooper, and all the time off? Well, it didn’t do a thing to slow him down. His drive is still there, fully intact. He will. not. stop.
Here’s the deal: When Cooper is out for a walk and we spot a dog, he flips out. He loses his head. He strains at the end of his leash, he barks, he wags, he yips, he hollers. It’s extreme frustration. When Cooper is out for a walk and we spot a squirrel, he makes his dog-spotting flip out seem tame. He seriously screeches. People from blocks away turn to stare. When Cooper is out for a walk and we get startled by a person–someone getting out of a car, someone coming out of a front door somewhere on the same block we’re walking, someone he can’t see coughing or sneezing somewhere nearby–he barks at that person.
But when Cooper is out for a run… none of that fazes him. He gets a bit excited if he sees a dog, but he keeps running. He gets a bit tense when he sees a person, but he keeps running. He whines a bit and reaches in the direction if he sees a squirrel, but he keeps running.
He’s the neurotic pit-mix version of Forrest Gump.
He just keeps running.
His post-run happy face is the cutest thing ever:
Anyway, some days he goes with me on my slow, short jog around the neighborhood.
Other days he goes with John on his training runs. Those are a mix of things, from distance and duration to sprints. What we’re finding is that Cooper thrives on distance. He wants to cover miles. He dislikes varying speeds, though; he needs a constant pace.
On Saturday, John had a log run. Seventy minutes. (Shudder…) He leashed up Coop and said that he’d swing by the house sometime between minutes 30 and 40 to drop Bean off because it was a little warm out and that was a long run. So, he did. After about 35 minutes, he brought Cooper home, then went back out. Cooper? He stood at the back door and waited. He wanted to keep going! I think he thought John would come right back to get him… but once he realized that John wasn’t coming back, he flopped in the middle of the kitchen floor and slept.
Cooper is an intense dog. He’s intense in all things. Seriously. All.
Just look at him in this birthday hat (another story for another day!):
That intensity is a double-edged sword, especially when it’s combined with his single-minded loyalty. He will literally run until he drops. Finding that line where he gets the most out of the activity, burns the most steam, gets to practice focus and build confidence, without overexerting him or pushing him to that point is our new challenge.
I know many of you run and many of you run with your dogs. Any tips or tricks to share? Fun running stories or outdoor adventures with your pup? What are your outdoor exercise plans for the summer?
As for me, it’s my day to run with Cooper… so I have 30 minutes of him trotting along staring at me with those “is that all you got, lady?” eyes of his… Yes, Bean. It’s all I got. 🙂