Want to get fit?…get a dog

I never really understood the appeal of having a dog. Especially one that lives in the house. I understand working dogs – shepherd dogs and guard dogs are cool, police, army and rescue dogs are pretty amazing too but having one at home, as a pet? No thanks, not for me.

We used to have a family dog but it was put to sleep when I was about 6 years old. This is probably the reason why I never really got the whole dog thing. My memories of our dog are of an old, blind Golden Labrador that would stumble about, walk into things and occasionally pee in the house. Then one day he wasn’t around anymore and life went on without him.

I obviously had other run-ins with canines as I was growing up. Dogs of friends or family or local dogs from where I lived. I got chased by an angry Doberman Pinscher when I was 12, now that’s a quick animal. I thought it was going to kill me, maybe it would have if it wasn’t for a well timed elevator in a block of flats taking me a couple of floors up to safety.

So all in all, my childhood experiences with our four legged friends weren’t that great. Things didn’t improve much into my 20’s – meeting grumpy, annoying dog after grumpy, annoying dog. I finally decided that I really didn’t dig the whole species. They were noisy, smelly, nowhere near as smart as people made out and although shapes and sizes varied, were all basically the same thing in a different package.

1st-dayThen two years ago (almost to the day) and a 40th birthday present from the other half and I was somehow driving home with a small fluffy, huge eared, wolf-like thing. She was 50% Siberian Husky, 50% Berger Blanc Suisse and 100% sh1t scared! She was only 8 weeks old – apparently this is a normal age to take a puppy – and understandably completely freaked out by the whole experience as we’d just taken her away from her parents and five siblings, which is all she’d known up until then. We bundled her up in a blanket, put her on a lap in the back of the car and sped away…talk about traumatic. We got her home and obviously on cue she makes a mess all over the living room floor…I was right all along!

Fast forward a couple of years and we now have two dogs in the house. One of the first dog’s sisters needed a home and it didn’t take us long to make the decision to bring her into the family too. As you’ve probably guessed, I’m a complete convert! I train them, I talk to them like they’re humans, I take photos of them and post them on social media, they get stroked, cuddled and played with. I even occasionally let them go on the bed…very occasionally. But yes, from a dog hater to a dog lover in two years.

In those two years I’ve walked with them up and down mountains, along valleys, over rivers and through forests for well over 4,000km and there lies the best part of being a dog owner. Four walks a day, without fail. Rain or shine, snow or wind, dark winter nights, hot summer afternoons – “Those dogs aren’t gonna walk themselves” – actually being half Husky they are quite capable of walking themselves for hours at a time…but where’s the fun it that?

 

The daily dog walking routine generally goes something like this;

 

Walk 1 @ 7:30am

  • Pre-walk: Puerh & Sencha tea mix – 1st steep
  • Length: 30 mins
  • Distance: 3 km
  • A great blast of fresh air to wake you up
  • Plenty of Golden Hour photo opportunities
  • Sometimes turns into a run
  • Gets the heart going and blood pumping
  • Great start to each and every day
  • Preps you for work
  • FFF: 11hrs with no food up until now – blood sugar and glycogen stores depleted so a great early morning fat-burner
  • Best time of year: winter
  • Post-walk:  Puerh & Sencha tea mix – 2nd steep

 

Walk 2 @ 12:00pmearly-spring-walk-4-of-4

  • Pre-walk: Vitamin D3 (November to March)
  • Length: 90 mins
  • Distance: 10 km
  • Can be a walk, run or mountain bike ride
  • Final exercise before eating the first meal of the day
  • FFF: 15hrs with no food up until now – blood sugar and glycogen stores are a distant memory so a really great fat burner and lean muscle-mass builder
  • Can be used for errand runs (post office, market etc)
  • Good for clearing the mind and focusing on tasks at hand
  • Builds creativity
  • Good for listening to inspiring audio books
  • Preps you for a healthy meal on your return
  • Best time of year: spring / autumn
  • After: 7 minute upper body/core workout
  • After: Fast-Breaking Shake

 

Walk 3 @ 5:00pm

  • Before: Stretching and Spirulina
  • Length: 30 mins
  • Distance: 3 km
  • Same loop as morning walk
  • Good energy blast
  • Break from the laptop screen
  • Sometimes turns into a run
  • Good exercise and fresh air before evening meal
  • Best time of year: summer
  • After: 7 minute upper body/core workout
  • After that: Protein Shake

 

Walk 4 @ 10:00pm

  • Before: Lemon Verbena & Dandelion Tea mix – 1st steep
  • Length: 10-15mins
  • Distance: <1km
  • Last walk of the day
  • Fun in winter with a head torch
  • Helps with digestion (along with the tea) before bed
  • Perfect time for your evening tea to cool down
  • Best time of year: winter / summer
  • After: Lemon Verbena & Dandelion Tea mix – 2nd steep

 

 

As well as the daily exercise regime, having a dog (or two) around the house is good for the mind, they seem to have a calming effect on us homo sapiens. I guess this has been the case for thousands of years…there’s definitely some kind of deep connection between us and them, something I didn’t understand or appreciate in my disliking-dog-years. There are also studies showing that the microbes dogs carry with them are beneficial to humans too – something we are decidedly lacking in this age of anti-bacterial hand wash.

10 Surprising Reasons Your Dog is Good For Your Health

From not getting dogs and not understanding why people have them to never imagining life without one or two dogs around the place is a big jump in two years. I wonder what the next two years will bring?

Thinking about it, I’ve never particularly liked horses…

tr-cotchin


Please note that comments are turned off on these Blog Posts. If you’d like to discuss topics, write or read comments then please visit our Social Media pages to do this (links in footer)