Tell us a bit about you and your dog/s
I have two rescue dogs- a 10.5yr old Staffordshire bull terrier and a 4-year-old collie cross Staffordshire bull terrier. Both are “on lead” dogs due to their history with other dogs.
Tell us a bit about your canicross experience so far…
I ran with a family dog as a teenager but didn’t know about canicross as a formal sport with the right kit, etc. I adopted my first dog in 2013 from a pound I volunteered at, hoping to do some agility. When it became obvious she was very “reactive” to unfamiliar dogs agility didn’t seem like the right sport for us. We always run but I found a canicross club in 2016. I adopted my second dog 2022 and we started canicross as soon as he was signed off as fit to do so. One of the reasons I chose him is because the rescue said he would like a canicross home.
Tell us about how canicross has helped you and your dog/s and your biggest achievements
Both my dogs have issues around other strange dogs, including bites. I never thought I’d be able to run with other dogs but I joined a canicross club with my older dog in 2016 and never looked back. We started at quiet runs with 1-2 others but eventually, she was fine at big meets. She was much more comfortable as the other dogs are on lead and there is no “head-on” meeting as you’re all running in the same direction. In fact, it turned out she was more confident with her canicross buddies and she would generally completely ignore dogs who she would definitely react to if alone, and she was also a lot more comfortable with other triggers such as loud noises. She eventually completed multiple races, up to 16 miles, but retired in 2020.
When I adopted my younger dog I knew that he enjoyed running so we saw a physio quickly to check he was fit to run as he hadn’t been walked regularly in his previous home, and started running. He’s been running for a few months now and has just completed his first 10k. He is very worried by other dogs but is much more confident when we are running and it will be how I slowly increase his pool of canine acquaintances when we have progressed enough.
We hope to join a canicross club eventually. I am not someone who finds it easy to speak to people and I struggle in social situations but I’ve been able to speak to people and feel comfortable with other canicrossers as there is always something to talk about (dogs- and we can all talk about our dogs!) and just like the dogs not having to meet head on I also find it easier to talk to people without eye contact so for me chatting and running is perfect. I’ve even started conversations with strangers at races because they had unusual dogs! “Canicross people” are also always non-judgmental about seeing dogs who need space, wear muzzles, etc, which also makes life easier when you have a nervous dog.
What are your goals and plans for the future?
I hope that my new rescue dog can become confident enough around other dogs to join social runs. He has progressed quickly and we have moved from having to run at 5 am to avoid other dogs to being able to run at 9 am on a Saturday, choosing the big hills and muddy fields that tend to be quieter. I’m not sure if we will get so far as being confident in a race environment, but if not there are plenty of challenges we can do alone or in a small group- I’d love to run up to half marathon distance with him, and to travel to as many places as possible to take long runs in the hills- I love the mud and rain, and whilst my staffie never enjoyed that sort of weather, the new lad doesn’t care as long as he’s running!