Meet my dog. His name is Crash.
If you’ve been to my site, you know I like to run. A lot. It is kind of a problem. But luckily it has afforded me some pretty awesome opportunities, like running from the Mexican to Canadian Border. Also, Katie and I love backpacking, climbing, frolicking and most things in life. We are both high energy and are always onto the next. Life is fast pace, so we wanted a dog that could keep up.
In the last year, we have had a cross country move from Boston to Seattle, Katie started grad school, I set a record on the Long Trail, scaled my coaching business to be a full-time job, and lived through a national pandemic and the most intense election cycle of all-time. Our 2020 was saved when we adopted Crash Bandipooch.
The ultimate cutie. How can you not love that face?
Crash is a 10 month old Australian Shepherd x Australian Shepherd Mini. Full size, he will be around 40 lbs. He’s adorable. He is very smart – he picks up on tricks quickly – we are currently working on him fetching the newspaper. He even has an Instagram. He really wants to make us happy. Crash listens very attentively and always wants to be the center of our attention to make sure he is doing his job right. When I’m working on my computer, we will play hours of indoor fetch. Eventually, he hits a wall and passes out. Then he loves to snuggle, and Katie and I can’t help ourselves.
While he loves to please us, he can also be a handful. We adopted an Australian Shepherd. Herding dogs always want to be doing a job, and, if you don’t stimulate them, they will take out their energy on something else like the garbage or your rug. Crash likes chewing on rugs. Not good. Also, Crash has some anxiety around other dogs and strangers, which seems to be why he was given up in the first place. Because of COVID, there is a whole generation of dogs who’ve grown up in families with limited social interactions. This limited social interaction has caused many adoption issues – cute COVID puppies in March can mean poorly-socialized dogs with aggression issues in October. While Crash is mostly mild mannered, this is something he needs to work on.
Being an ultramarathon coach, I want to set him up for success to be a healthy, strong and consistent runner. My question for you – how do I do it?
Running with a dog – the basics
I confess, I’m not a dog expert. But I’ll give you the inside scoops I’ve picked up after 5 weeks of being a dog dad:
- Pick the right breed: ‘High-energy’ generally means ‘loves to run.’ There are hundreds of articles on the best running breeds. My ideal breeds came down to an Australian Shepherd, Border Collie and Vizsla, but make sure you do diligent research.
- Talk with someone who knows the breed: We adopted Crash from Compass Point Rescue who specializes with herding breeds. They partner with a local herding and agility training doggie ranch. Crash’s foster mom, who also happened to be a dog trainer, told us that Crash would be great running for 10-20 minutes. His stamina needs to be built over months, not weeks.
- Mutts make great runners, consider adoption! I used RescueMe.org and the PetFinder app, and founder greater success with RescueMe. Remember, purebred dogs may have hip and health issues that crossbreeds don’t have. I have plenty of friends who own great running dogs that aren’t purebred.
- Wait until at least 6 months, potentially up to 12 months for larger breeds, before you start running your dog. Doing so earlier will risk their health.
What we wish we knew
Before we got Crash, everyone said, ‘You guys are great dog people! That is perfect for you and your lifestyle!’
After we adopted Crash, our dog-owner friends lamented ‘Man, having a dog is such a responsibility. My life is simply different because I’m always looking after my dog.’
I imagine this is what having a baby is like…
Basically, Crash has filled all the small gaps in my time. Instead of taking an extra 10 minutes to get out of bed, I jump out to door to make sure he goes to the bathroom. Instead of focusing on my job throughout the day, I’m constantly distracted by Crash’s shenanigans. If Katie and I want to go on a spontaneous adventure, we stop and contemplate what we will do with Crash. We never had this constant worry before.
To some, this extra responsibility is overwhelming. And, if we had a puppy, we would probably feel that way.
The truth is, Katie and I love our new fur baby. Since we adopted Crash as a young dog, he has basic foundational skills that make owning him lovely, most of the time. This has made a huge difference. Making sure he is cared for hasn’t been burdensome on us, yet. Maybe we will feel differently in a post-COVID world where people travel long distances for vacation and work in offices for 10 hours a day. You can follow Crash here.
How can Katie and I make Crash a great running dog? Do you have tips for a new dog owner?
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