Percy is still somewhat new to our family. Our last dog, Maggie, was a cross between a Bull Mastiff and a Yellow Lab, and she most definitely was not a runner. She passed away just before Christmas last year, and we knew that for our next dog, we wanted one that I could take running with me. As it turned out, a dog belonging to friends of ours got pregnant (oops!) and we were the lucky recipients of Percy, who is a cross between a Springer Spaniel, and something black (all we know about the father is that my buddy saw a black dog running out of the yard after having his way with their Springer Spaniel). We got her when she was about 12 weeks old, and I couldn't wait until she was old enough to start running with me.
I did a fair bit of research, and found that it's not good to take puppies running as it can damage their joints, so I was pretty careful with that. Right from the time we got Percy she got lots of walks, and when we could get to trails where she was able to go off leash we would let her run- at her own pace, and only for as long as she wanted. I slowly started to run with her when we would go for walks- we'd walk a few hundred metres, and then jog a few hundred metres, just like if a person is starting to run from scratch. She had the energy to do a lot more than that, but I wanted to ease her in to her running fitness.
I found that trails really were the best place to build up her running endurance. The surfaces are soft, and the pace is slower and varied. We could walk up hills, stop to let her sniff around wherever she wanted, and when she got to a stretch where she could open up the pace and go for a rip, she could do that too.
Fortunately, with the stage I'm at in my running, it's working well for us to build up our mileage together. I'm coming off taking about 6-8 weeks of easy running & recovery, and now am getting ready to ramp up my training for spring races. That means as I build up, Percy will be building up too, and having a great time. Knowing that she is excited to get out there every day gives me a bit more motivation too on the days when I'd rather hit the snooze button and skip that run.
Every morning when she hears me come out of my bedroom at 5am, she jumps off the sofa, has a big stretch, and heads for the front door to wait for me to get dressed and hit the trails with her. As Percy and I continue our running journey together, I'll continue to write about it. If any of you have any stories or experiences about running with your dog, I'd love to hear about it.