Just over three years ago I contacted Wiccaweys (who rehome rescued Border Collies) looking for a second dog to join our family. When I called them to explain the sort of dog I was looking for I do remember saying that I didn’t mind too much what it was but as I wanted to run with it then a three legged woof probably wasn’t the one for me!!
And so I met Hector.
Hector came bouncing out to meet us just like an overgrown puppy... it was love at first sight.
Once Hector had settled in, and as he was already over a year old, I started to introduce him to the sport of canicross. Instantly he LOVED it. Like my other dog Betty, he found a way of challenging all that border collie energy into a ‘job’ and what’s more he is really very good at it!
So, let me tell you why I run with my dog and why he inspires me.
Firstly, you need to know I run like I have my knees tied together! I am far too slow for any of my sporty friends to run with so running was becoming something of a solitary hobby!
Secondly, I run with my dog Hector because he loves it with a passion. Hector would run all day given half a chance. He is my perfect running partner. He is ALWAYS up for a run (and I mean always!) He never cries off because it is too cold/wet/windy/icy. He doesn’t care how slowly I run or even if we walk part way round.
Through running with Hector I have met some extraordinary people and made some really lovely like-minded friends. We have appeared twice in articles about running with your dog in national running magazines and hopefully that will have inspired others to take up the sport of canicrossing. We have travelled across the country to take part in canicross races including the infamous Brutal 10. This year we were part of a Canicross demonstration in the main arena at Crufts.
Because I run with Hector it allows me to go exploring as I feel safe with him. We can run across country and see much more of the countryside than we ever would do at a walking pace. I have done all this because of Hector and certainly would never have done any of this on my own as just a runner.
Some of my most amazing running moments have been when I am with Hector. We have run in the falling snow through a ‘white out’ - that was fun! We have run through thunderstorms and got drenched - that was fun! We have run at night with only a head torch to guide us by – that was fun! We have run down frozen canal paths chasing the rising sun – that was fun! We regularly splash through muddy puddles just because it brings out the big kid in me!
Hector truly does inspire me to get out and run. I only have to look at his face when he sees his canicross harness come out and I know that there’s no going back... We HAVE to go out whether I want to or not because he is doing his impersonation of a harrier jump jet! How can you not want to go out and run with a dog that thinks it’s the best thing he’s done all day! It doesn’t matter to him if he is running in harness or free running. He boldly runs out front – helping me up the hills (ahem!) and trusting me to guide him with vocal directionals around trees and along pathways. I love the bond that it creates between us.
Hector is my running inspiration and I would urge anyone who is even remotely able to have a go at running with your dog. Trust me, you don’t need to be Mo Farah for your dog to enjoy this activity with you. Even if you only run a few paces and walk the rest that’s fine – your dog will enjoy it. The way I see it is that you have to go out and walk your dog anyway so why not do a little bit of canicrossing instead? The benefits are numerous – you build a bond with your dog, they get lots of exercise... and so do you! It’s a win-win situation and who knows where it will lead you?
Rae Prince & Hector.