Puppy Safety: Sleepypod ClickIt Sport Harness

puppy-safety-clickit-sport-title-image

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Ya know what happens when you spend two hours watching crash test videos involving dogs? You spend $80 on the one harness that didn’t send a test dummy flying through the air.

That’s how Bailey ended up with a Sleepypod ClickIt Sport harness.

The Center for Pet Safety (CPS) and Subaru of America last month released the results of its crate and carrier safety tests. Sponsoring these tests is one of the million reasons why I love owning a Subaru and probably wouldn’t purchase any other car. It’s also what made this report so damn disappointing.

Anyway…in a nutshell, CPS crash tested some of the most popular carriers and crates used by pet owners. Just about all of them failed miserably. Crates and carriers are good to keep your pet from being a driving distraction, but very few of them will keep your pet safe should you get into an accident. Not only can your dog get hurt, but your dog can hurt you as she flies through the car.

Harnesses aren’t any better. We’ve seen this for ourselves the few times I needed to stop short while traveling with Bailey. She often slipped forward, landing in the space between the front and back seats. I hated it, but I had read in numerous places that no harnesses fully kept your dog secure during a crash. Knowing that they all sucked, we went with what worked best in terms of comfort.

That’s until I saw the crash tests.

Due to the video settings, I can’t embed them here. You can check them out for yourself using this link.

Of all the harnesses tested, the Sleepypod ClickIt Utility was the only one that kept the test dog safe in a mock accident. The ClickIt Sport was later tested and performed just as well.

Chuck usually balks when I buy something for Bailey, but he didn’t bat an eye when I told him I was adding $80 to our existing credit card debt to purchase one of these harnesses for Bailey. Thinking about the expense logically, using our existing system should we get into a car accident and Bailey survive, treating her injuries would likely cost more than $80.

Our Personal Test Run

The ClickIt Sport comes in multiple colors, but I decided to go with bright orange because this harness since it will also be used as Bailey’s hiking harness. The orange will hopefully keep her from being mistaken for a deer while we’re in the woods. Considering where we go hiking, I don’t see this as a realistic threat, but it’s good to play it safe.

The harness has two reflective strips so I decided to start using it while we jog. As you may have read in last week’s post, we try our best to be visible when we go jogging in the early morning hours. Between the reflective strips and the bright color, it should help Bailey be seen when we go running.

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

My only concern was the placement of the leash rings. They’re in the back up by the shoulders. I’m a big fan of the Easy Walk, which attaches in the front. This gives me a lot more control of Bailey’s movements and generally keeps her from choking herself should she get too excited and start lunging forward. Generally, back attachments encourage pulling so they’re discouraged by science-based trainers.

In practice, though, I found that Bailey’s leash manners are good enough that I haven’t had any problems with pulling and the harness gives me more control than I had expected.

We finally got to take it for a test drive Labor Day weekend with a trip to Goodberry’s for ice cream (we went at like 8:30 hence the dark photos). Bailey doesn’t love car rides likely because she still gets somewhat car sick. She’s used to a huge range of motion that allows her to sit, stand, lay down in funny positions, and ball the seat cover into a little pillow.

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

The ClickIt Sport cuts down on this range of motion, which sucks for Bailey, but it’s what will keep her safe. She can sit and lay down just fine, but she won’t be able to stand and walk around. This is fine on short trips, but we’ll have to make sure to give her more stretch breaks when we stop.

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

She did get herself a bit tangled when I opened the door at our destination. She learned pretty fast and when we got home she waited patiently for me to unbuckle her.

Downsides

Like everything, it comes with a few downsides.

Price: It’s freaking expensive. Worth the price? Sure. But expensive is expensive.

Sizing: Be sure to measure your dog to ensure you get the right size. Bailey is a bit oddly shaped. She’s small for a Lab and is always too big for a medium but too small for a large. The harness can be adjusted, but I feel like you need to be an engineer to tighten and loosen the straps. There’s a video on the website, which you may have to watch like 10 times.

Leash Ring Placement: Bailey has good leash manners so this is turning out to be a minor problem for us, but dogs that are still in training with a front-clasp harness may not benefit from having the rings in the back. Changing harnesses once you reach your destination would be a raging pain in the ass. You could, in theory, put another harness over it, but I’m not sure how I’d feel about that if I were a dog.

I don’t see any of these issues existing if your dog uses just a collar or a Gentle Leader.

Final Verdict

Overall, I really like this harness. I wouldn’t use it for casual walks around my neighborhood, but it works well for jogging in the early morning. Bailey gives it a thumbs down for range of movement in the car, but I give it a thumbs up for keeping her safe. Once you get the sizing right, it’s easy to put on and easy to secure in the car. While not in our budget, it was worth the extra debt as it should hopefully prevent even higher vet bills should we get into an accident.

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

If you’re going to swing by Amazon to purchase one for your pup, do me a solid and use my affiliate link. The price is the same for you, but I get a little pocket change which I can use to spoil my dog pay my bills. Thanks!

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#FitnessFriday: Running Gear Rundown

fitness-friday-running-gear-rundown

This post contains affiliate links. Click here to learn more about how I use affiliate links

I look ridiculous when I run.

I look ridiculous in the same way most people don’t look their best when they’re exercising. On top of that, I use an obscene amount of running gear just for a three-mile run. I’m not marathon training, so why all the gear? There’s a method to my madness, I swear.

Let’s break it down:

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

The majority of my running gear is related to running with a dog. When I run 5k races without her, I use a fraction of this stuff. I’m trying to keep us safe and I’m a responsible dog owner so all of this junk serves a purpose.

Leash

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

I hate holding things when I run. I hate when my hands get hot and sweaty. Enter the Stunt Puppy Hands-Free Dog Leash. After my brother-in-law died last year, my in-laws gave us a few of his dog things. They still have his awesome pup, Munchy, but Sean used this leash when he took her running. My in-laws take Munch on daily walks, but running they are not. Thinking I could use it, they passed it on to me. I love that it leaves my hands completely free, and I don’t have to worry about her running off while I’m picking up some poop or I’m otherwise distracted.

Some downsides: Bailey is a pretty good runner in that she doesn’t really get distracted when we’re moving at a good pace. But sometimes, she gets a whiff of something and she stops short. Dog owners know what I’m talking about. Because the leash is around your waist,  the sudden jerk to a stop can be downright painful. It’s also harder to remove the leash should you be in a situation where you need to be separated from your dog. I don’t want to be attached to my dog if she’s in a fight with another dog. Overall, though, I’m happy with it.

Poop Bags

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve left poop on the side of the road. It was always because I was out of bags. I really try to never find myself without a poop bag (Click here to read why dog poop isn’t fertilizer). These holders are a dime a dozen. I got the blue one as part of a gift bag doing a 5k and I purchased the green one after Bailey first came home. I like the green one from Earth Rated because it has a little clip that makes it easier to hold a full bag, but it’s plastic and I hate how it swings around when I run. It’s been since moved to Bailey’s walking leash.

I’m a fan of Earth Rated bags because they use less plastic than the other kind. Realistically, these bags won’t biodegrade any faster than a plastic shopping bag, but they’re made with less raw material, which makes my hippy heart somewhat happy.

Running Belt

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

I initially wanted a running belt that could hold pepper spray, treats and my cell phone, but it’s really just turned into a glorified treat bag. I like buying some things online, but others I need to touch and feel. Running belts were one of them. I purchased this one from Nathan at Dick’s because I had yet to discover the awesomeness of REI and I’m sure there I could have found a better selection. It’s small and light, but large enough to hold a bunch of dog treats and my little can of pepper spray.

Treats were more of a necessity when I was teaching Bailey leash manners, but now they’re just for sporadic reinforcement of those leash manners. Now, we’re working more on staying focused when we come across people or another dog, which doesn’t happen often at 6am. I also bring a couple of large biscuit treats in case she needs something a little more high value on which to focus. If we don’t need it, I give it to her at the end of our run.

Phone Case

When I bought my running belt I was also still going to the gym at NC State. Even though I had bought it with the intention of putting my phone in it, I realized that I wasn’t going to use it if I was working out at the gym. I ended up purchasing an arm band from Sporteer. The one I have currently is made for a Samsung Galaxy4, but my new iPhone 5S fits in it just fine. I like that it zips closed to protect it from the rain, but don’t expect to get too much done pressing those buttons. The plastic is pretty thick. It’s comfortable to wear and stays in place.

Pepper Spray

Photo: After the Knot

Photo: After the Knot

Aside from the occasional break-in, my neighborhood is pretty safe from scary men in white vans. It does, however, have far too many loose dogs running around. My feelings about that could take up 3,000 words so I won’t get into it, but I carry pepper spray with me in case Bailey and I are attacked by a dog. Thankfully, I’ve never had to use it and I hope I never will.

Headlamp

energizer-head-lamp

As I’ve said a bazillion times before, I live in a neighborhood without sidewalks, which means I have to run in the street. For a large portion of the year, it’s dark at 6am. I enjoy running that early because there are so few cars on the road. Naturally, I want to make sure those few cars see me. I used to use these little blinky lights I got at the pet store, but they use one of those obscure flat batteries and I always forget to order them.

My farther-in-law happened to give me this Energizer headlamp a few months back and it does the trick. For right now I use the red-light mode as it’s not completely dark when I go running, but in a week or two, I’ll likely switch over to the flashlight mode. I attach it to the belt of my hands-free leash. It uses three AAA batteries, which don’t require any special Amazon orders. It’s a little on the heavy side compared to the other lights, but it offers way more visibility.

Harness

The one piece of running gear I didn’t talk about is Bailey’s harness. We just invested in a Sleepypod ClickIt Sport and I’ll be dedicating an entire post to it. I really like it has a running harness but have yet to take her in the car with it, which is the main reason why we bought it. Once I do that, I’ll share with you my thoughts.

 

Got a piece of running gear that you recommend? Share it in the comments. 

 

[Dog Bite Prevention Week] I Love My Dog, But She Will Bite

National Dog Bite Prevention Week

My dog will bite you. My dog will bite me. She’ll bite my husband and my children.

I don’t live in a delusional fantasy land where dogs don’t bite when they’re scared, stressed or hurt. For everyone’s safety, I treat my dog as though she will bite even though she’s generally a pile of cuddly mush.

It’s my job to intervene when I feel that Bailey is stressed, over-aroused or scared because these are the instinctual emotions that she will feel before she harms someone.

Dogs rarely bite “out of nowhere.” Dogs usually exhibit signs that they are uncomfortable, but those signs are often ignored by their owners. In some cases, these signs are trained out by their owners, like when a dog is punished every time she growls. Soon, the dog learns that growling leads to punishment and you’ve lost one of your signals that your dog is uncomfortable. So your dog didn’t bite out of nowhere. You trained her not to tell you she’s about to bite.

I never punish Bailey for growling and I work fast to mediate whatever situation is causing her stress. I want Bailey to growl because that’s how I know I need to intervene before things become dangerous.

Kids and Dogs

More often than not, that adorable photo of the baby and the dog currently circulating the interwebs is a nightmare waiting to happen. Some dogs are perfectly comfortable with their tiny human companions while others are forced to interact because their owner thinks it’s cute. If you really scrutinize a photo involving a child and a dog, you’ll find that oftentimes the dog is exhibiting some signs of stress: Their ears could be pulled back, their eyes are white and shifty, they have a furrowed brow, and their body is stiff. This dog is not happy. This is a dog that could bite.

Preventing a child from being bitten is why I’ve been learning about dog body language since Bailey entered our life. I watch videos, study pictures and read articles from animal behavioral experts all in hopes that I can prevent a bite.

Ultimately, though, if my child does get bitten, it’s my fault. I did not do my job as a human and pet parent to ensure that Bailey and our child were interacting in a safe manner. Maybe I was exhausted. Maybe it was hard to tell how she was feeling. Maybe I made a mistake. No matter what, it’s my fault and I will never blame Bailey.

Bailey is a fun, sweet, well-behaved pup. She lives for belly rubs and slobbery kisses. She’s been a wonderful playmate for children before and I believe she will make an awesome companion for our child.

I'll never say, "My dog won't bite." // After the Knot

I’ll never say, “My dog won’t bite.” // After the Knot

But she’s a dog. She’s an animal. Animals are instinctual and somewhat unpredictable. I love my dog with all of my heart and soul, but she will bite me if she felt she had to.

And I’m OK with that.

Dog Bite Facts from AVMA

  • Each year, more than 4.5 million people in the U.S. are bitten by dogs.
  • Almost 1 in 5 people bitten by dogs require medical attention.
  • Every year, more than 800,000 Americans receive medical attention for dog bites; at least half of them are children.
  • Children are, by far, the most common victims of dog bites and are far more likely to be severely injured.
  • Most dog bites affecting young children occur during everyday activities and while interacting with familiar dogs.
  • Senior citizens are the second most common dog bite victims.

Resources

Knowledge is the best way to prevent dog bites. Here are some of my favorite resources.

American Veterinary Medical Association: The sponsors behind Dog Bite Prevention Week

Reisner Veterinary Behavior & Consulting Services: The Facebook page for this consulting business is AMAZING and has wonderful, wonderful examples of why that adorable viral dog video is not adorable and is actually very dangerous.

Family Paws Parent Education: Great for families with dogs

Lili Chin: Her illustrations are a MUST VIEW for anyone attempting to learn how to decode dog body language. They continue to be a constant help for me.

Dr. Sophia Yin: While Dr. Yin, sadly, committed suicide late last year, her work remains instrumental to fostering a positive bond between pets and their owners. Her entire site is a wealth of information.

Victoria Stillwell Positively: Generally speaking, I try to stay away from any “expert” that has a TV show, but if you’re going to go the way of the TV trainer, Victoria Stillwell is the one to give your support. Unlike He Who Shall Not Be Named, Stillwell uses proven science-based training techniques and actually has an understanding of dog behavior.

 

Adventures in Dog Training: Preparing for the Not-Yet-Conceived Baby

I’m just going to come right out and say it:

My dog fucking rocks. She’s awesome. She really is the best dog on the face of the Earth.

But, she’s far from perfect.

She’s really great with a lot of her basic skills, like Sit, Stay, Leave-It, etc. She’s less great with more complicated skills like recall. When she sees people she wants to say hello to she charges forward and barks like a maniac. It’s incredibly disturbing to anyone that doesn’t know her. We’re slowly working on this one.

The stress of a foster kitten has made her a little food aggressive toward the cats so I enlisted the help of our trainer for some advice.

I mentioned that I also wanted to teach Bailey how to stop barking on cue because I know the skill will come in handy once we have a baby.

Our trainer suggested also working on some other skills are great for when a baby is around, like not rushing to the front door and learning to stay out of a room when asked.

Setting Barriers

One of the first things I learned about training a dog is that they need boundaries. Now, not only are we teaching boundaries, but we’re setting barriers.

We’re teaching Bailey the cue Wait which in effect means, “don’t move forward. There is a line and you cannot cross it.” I could use this cue when I’m putting Future Baby in her crib and I don’t want Bailey following me into her room. I would ask Bailey to wait in the doorway and she would not follow me in. If she wants to leave, that’s fine, but she can’t move forward.

We practice Wait at every doorway, including this one from the hallway to the kitchen. / After the Knot

We practice Wait at every doorway, including this one from the hallway to the kitchen. / After the Knot

Wait is different than stay which is, stay here until I tell you to move. I guess you could argue they should be the other way around, but she’s a dog. I could use the word shishkabob and it wouldn’t matter.

Door Manners

I started teaching Bailey door manners a while back, but even though it should have been a high-priority, I was never consistent with her training.

We’re now trying to teach Bailey to stay on her bed when we answer the door. The same skills for wait apply here.

A note letting people know that it might take a minute to answer the door. We're not trying to be rude, we're just trying to train our dog. / After the Knot

A note letting people know that it might take a minute to answer the door. We’re not trying to be rude, we’re just trying to train our dog. / After the Knot

While you can use audio files of door bells and door knocks to practice, we practice this every day when we come home.

(Our trainer suggested we do this. It’s so common sense, I’m not sure why we didn’t think of it earlier.)

For example, when I come home from work, or anywhere, I don’t go to the side door anymore. Like a guest would, I go to the front door. I ring the bell and watch C work to get Bailey on her bed.  Right now, we release her almost immediately, slowly building up her ability to stay.

This enables us to practice this skill every day without needing people to come over regularly.

We’re hoping that by the time Future Baby arrives, guests will be able to enter the house without pushing by a very excited Lab.

This video from trainer Victoria Stillwell shows the process that we’re using teach Bailey this skill.

Quiet

With at least half a dozen dogs outdoor dogs near my house, it’s very easy for the howls to start. Someone coming home from work down the street could trigger the chorus of the barking dogs. Naturally, Bailey has to get in on this action.

Power of Barking

As Puppy Bailey has taught me, I’m not very functional without sleep. I cry. A lot. I also get angry really easily.

At some point, we’ll have a baby and I fully intend to attempt to sleep while Future Baby sleeps. If a chorus of barking dogs causes Bailey to bark and wake up Future Baby and the precious moments of sleep I have are gone, I’m going to flip. the. fuck. out.

So, I figured if we started now we’d have at least a year and a half to teach Bailey to STFU when we ask her.

Training quiet has been a little more difficult, just because it’s unpredictable. This involves rewarding Bailey the moment she stops barking, knowing she would likely start up again almost immediately. This skill will take a long time to learn, which is why we wanted a good amount of time before we’d have to apply it.

Since working on this though, I’ve noticed Bailey does settle down a little bit more quickly, but we have a long way to go.

Our Trainer

Words can’t describe how excited I am to have found Kassondra from Always Pawsitive. It’s been really hard to find a positive reinforcement trainer that doesn’t use “positive training” as a marketing buzzword. If you live in southeastern Wake County or northwestern Johnston County, I hope you’ll look her up.

 

What did you do to prepare you dog for a new little human? 

Obligatory New Year’s Resolutions Post

As 2014 came to a close, I’m likely one of many people that reflected on the promised improvements they made this time last year.

For me, New Year’s resolutions have always been kind of useless. I’m not sure that I’ve ever really achieved any of the goals I set for myself. I do like considering the New Year as a blank slate, though. I think dwelling on the mistakes of your past can be destructive, but setting broad goals without any sort of infrastructure to help achieve them defeats the purpose.

What good is “lose 60 pounds” if I don’t also include the steps I’ll need to actually lose that much weight? Case in point, losing 60 pounds has been my New Year’s resolution for a good two years, but not only did I not achieve that goal each year, I put on more weight.

Finally shedding 18 pounds wasn’t due to multiple resolutions; my weight loss was due to accomplishing small goals and changes throughout the year (and yes, weight loss medication my doctor prescribed).

It was setting a goal to work out four times a week and including two vegetables with dinner (something we still struggle with). It was trying desperately to avoid eating carbs for lunch and dinner. It was signing up for three 5Ks with a goal to do them without walking. It was striving to go to yoga once a week. Those little goals had more of an impact on my success than the bold statement of “lose 60 pounds.”

So, this year I’m taking a different approach to New Year’s resolutions.

In that vein, here are some small goals to get 2015 started:

Finances

Our paltry savings were wiped out when we moved to Raleigh more than four years ago. Consistent financial insecurity has caused us to put any potential savings toward chipping away at debt (medical, credit card and student loan).

someecards.com

someecards.com

While that hasn’t changed, I decided to build up our savings again by automatically drafting $20 from each paycheck. It’s not much, but it’s a start. I’m sure I’ll be tempted to transfer those accrued savings, but in my savings account is where they should stay.

Fitness

The past year, I’ve focused mainly on cardio because I only have time to do one workout each day and the dog can’t lift weights. This year, I want to do at least two days of strength training per week.

I’m not giving up running (or “running”), though. As I’ve written about before, now that I’ve reached my distance goal, I’ll be working on speed to bring down my mile time. Like last year, I’ll sign up for a few races to keep me focused and motivated.

earthporm.com

earthporm.com

I want to continue going to yoga at least once a week, kicking it up to two when it works with my weekend schedule. At the very least, I plan on incorporating yoga into my strength training routine. Sun salutations are like yoga burpees, I assure you.

(They look easy, but do 10 rounds and tell me how your arms feel the next day)

Food

We’ve been half-assing an attempt to include more produce into our diet for a while now. Most of it goes in the compost pile unused and rotten. This year, on top of wasting less, I want to start thinking about our meals a little differently.

A recent dinner of bratwurst, steamed broccoli and sautéed radishes and chickpeas / After the Knot

A recent dinner of bratwurst, steamed broccoli and sautéed radishes and chickpeas / After the Knot

We generally focus on protein and build dinner around that.

Example: We have chicken. What can we make with chicken? Chicken cutlets. OK. What else are we having with it?

Instead, I’d like to focus on a particular vegetable and build the dinner around it, even if it’s still the side dish.

Example: We have spinach. What can we make with spinach? Sautéed spinach. OK. What else are we having with it?

I have no idea if this mental change will work, but it’s worth a shot.

Dog Training

My dog is freaking awesome, but she’s far from perfect. Her recall only works in my yard and she gets so excited when she sees people or dogs that are obviously her new best friend, she lunges and barks until her harness gets twisted and people stare at me with their judgey eyes. This is Bailey’s terrifying way of saying, “I love you and I’m so happy to see you.”

Let her off leash for a picture on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Nope. I'll never see her again. / After the Knot

Let her off leash for a picture on the Blue Ridge Parkway? Nope. I’ll never see her again. / After the Knot

We’ve already started learning a new cue, “touch,” to help bring her focus back on me. We’re also working on “focus” to keep her attention there. This year we’ll continue working on these cues, along with practicing recall in the front yard, outside the boundaries of our fence.

 

And that’s it. I’m leaving it at that.

I’d like to get more organized, learn how to sew, learn a new crochet stitch, read more books, go hiking more regularly, go kayaking, and paint the hallways in my house. And if I do all that, awesome. But if I don’t, it’ll be OK.

Here’s to 2015, a blank slate.

What My Dog Tells Me About Future Parenthood

OK. I confess. This isn’t a totally original post. About seven months ago, I posted something similar to my Tumblr, which focuses on my life as a new dog mom. I wanted to share it here with a few updates. 

There’s some emerging research that suggests that women, in particular, love their dogs like children. Well, yes. Shocker. The research says that our brains respond to our dogs the way we would respond to our children.

Well, if that’s the case, Bailey has given me a pretty clear picture of how I’ll be as a parent.

My kids will be spoiled: I really hope I can keep this from happening, but considering the fact that every time I go to the pet store, I come home with a new toy for Bailey, it’s highly unlikely.

 

After bath bully stick? Sure.

After bath bully stick? Don’t mind if I do. 

I won’t trust anyone: There is a small handful of people that I trust to care for Bailey for more than an afternoon. Daycare for a human child is going to be a nightmare. On top of that, the look Bailey gives me as I drive away from the house breaks my heart.

I will be slightly paranoid: I really don’t want to be a helicopter parent, but I did buy my dog a light so I could keep an eye on her when she’s in the yard at night. That’s really one step away from implanting a GPS chip in your child.

If using this light makes you feel better, momma, sure. I'll wear it.

If using this light makes you feel better, momma, sure. I’ll wear it.

I won’t be a cry-it-out parent: The first night of Bailey’s crate training, I gave in to her wails and howls, and I let her out. We slept on the floor together next to her crate. A week later, we brought her into our room, and she slept on the floor next to our bed for the next couple of months.

And, in case you’re wondering, this system actually worked out just fine for us. Bailey was housebroken very quickly. She was crated during the day and while she never learned to absolutely love her crate, she was just fine in it. 

I will give in to sharing the bed: Originally, I didn’t want Bailey sleeping in our bed. It’s just too small for two people, two cats and a 60-pound dog. This went to hell when we brought her home from the vet after being spayed. She was unusually whiny so we let her up in our room for the first time. After 45 minutes of trying to get her to stay in her own bed, she spent the night in ours. For a few months, Bailey slept with us all night. Thankfully, without any real formal training, Bailey spends most of the night in her own.

If my kid has a nightmare, you can sure bet I’ll let her sleep in my bed.

Training tip: I always make sure I reward Bailey when she goes on her bed voluntarily. I keep a bag of treats in my nightstand so when she hops off our bed and into hers, I toss her a treat. She started this behavior on her own, but now I’m working on reinforcing it. 

Your bed is much more comfortable that my bed.

Your bed is much more comfortable that my bed.

I won’t handle the exhaustion well. At all:  I’m told that the first month with an 8-week-old puppy is much like the first few weeks of parenthood. I didn’t sleep at all and could barely function at work. I was so tired I cried all the time. I felt emotionally broken and thought about taking her to a shelter every day*. I’m really looking forward to that, said no one ever.

*Obviously I didn’t, and my life would actually be a giant mess without this dog, so clearly we got through it. 

Maybe I won’t suck at parenting: I would never equate raising a dog to raising a child, but I was pretty damn terrified to raise a dog. I never had a dog and I had an overwhelming fear that I was going to turn her into this aggressive, misbehaved monster. I was sure that I was going to seriously screw Bailey up.

Bailey is by no means perfect, but she’s pretty awesome. People often remark how well behaved she is, especially for her age. So maybe I won’t royally suck at parenting. Maybe I won’t screw up my kids’ lives all that much. Maybe they’ll turn out fairly normal.

Now can I have it?

Now can I have it?

Hopefully.

 

Did your pets teach you anything about parenting? Leave me a note in the comments. 

 

 

#FitnessFriday: Dog Day 5k

I was at the vet’s office with Bailey when I noticed a flyer for a 5k sponsored by a Golden Retriever rescue group.

“Ya wanna run another 5k, Bailey?” I asked.

I don’t even think she looked at me. She was too interested in all the dog smells.

I impulse-registered for the race, which at that point was only a couple of weeks after the first one I had completed.

What the hell, I thought.

Race Day

On race day, I was more  concerned with how Bailey was going to deal with being around so many dogs. Bailey is incredibly friendly so when she sees a dog that she believes is her new best friend, Bailey MUST. GO. MEET. HER.

It’s embarrassing.

It’s also why I have an appointment with a trainer next week.

Unlike my first 5k, the morning was about 20 degrees cooler, hovering in the upper 50s. I was one of the only people rocking a tank top, because I’d rather be a little chilly than too hot.

I positioned myself in the back, knowing all of these real runners and their dogs were going to take off sprinting the minute they got the OK. That’s what happened and we watched as they ran off ahead of us. Bailey tried to pull ahead, clearly angry that her human is far too slow at this.

Soon, the crowd of runners who are also dog owners was far in the distance and Bailey and I could handle the rest of the race at our own pace.

Unlike the other race, I was familiar with this route on foot and I knew that it was mostly flat with some short hills here and there. I had never jogged it, but I knew it would be similar to our route at home.

Our chip time clocked in at 43:16 for a 13:57-mile.

If you remember, just a couple of weeks earlier, our chip time was 45:42 for a 14:44-mile.

The clock says we improved our overall time by about a minute and a half, but realistically, we did even better.

Doggy kisses after our race.

Doggy kisses after our race.

We had to stop twice. The first was a quick bathroom break where I lost some time cleaning up after Bailey. No biggie.

The second was much longer. Bailey became a stone when the smell of something awesome was just way more overpowering than jogging with me. Her harness became tangled as I tried to pull her away from whatever was mesmerizing her. After one failed attempt of fixing the harness without taking it off, I ended up having to do just that.

I was half annoyed, half thankful for the excuse for a break.

I was absolutely certain that we added a few minutes and wouldn’t beat our time from our first race. Needless to say, I was incredibly surprised when I got a look at the clock as I ran toward the finish line and realized that we had actually beat our time from that first race.

I’m looking forward to the race in November. Since I’ll be doing it alone, I’m really interested to see what my dog-less capabilities are.

The Kindness of Runners

We were about a half-mile away from the finish line when I really started to feel exhausted and on the verge of quitting. Despite being so close, I just felt so far.

Another runner came walking in my direction, clearly having finished the race like 20 minutes earlier. I smiled and nodded, because I’m polite like that, and she responded with, “You’re doing great. You’re almost there.”

I choked out a breathless thank you.

A minute or two later, another runner came walking by, presumably heading to his car. “You’re doing great! Keep going! You’re almost there.”

Another breathless thank you.

These two perfect strangers gave me the boost I needed to pick up the pace and get across that finish line a minute and a half sooner than I had just two weeks before. I’m not sure they know the difference their words made.

It’s not the first time this has happened to me. A few years back, I was jogging on a greenway near our apartment, feeling equally as exhausted, when someone running by said, “You’re doing awesome!”

I was so surprised, I nearly fell.

I don’t know much about running culture, so I’m left wondering if giving words of encouragement to complete strangers is something that you just do, much like how all Jeep owners wave at each other.

Is it proper etiquette, like saying, “On your left/right” when you’re passing someone? Or did I just encounter three really kind people? As a New Yorker, I’m still blown away by public acts of kindness.

I’d love if a runner would shed some light on it only because I’m curious. As someone on the receiving end, I can tell you that these words mean the world. They seem to come when you need them the most and remind you how far you’ve come.

So if this is just a thing you runners do, I hope you keep it up. It makes a world of difference.