Friday, October 05, 2007

Jogging with Griffen

We’ve lived in our house for nearly 6 years now, and Griffen is 5, almost 6. Griffen has been jogging in our neighborhood for more days of his life than he has not, if that makes sense. He’s a very lean dog, as he weighs in at 65 pounds, and our vet often says things like “Now this is what a Labrador is supposed to look like” when she examines him on his yearly physical.

When he was a puppy he was limping on his back legs quite a bit, as he was doubling in size every week until he became a full grown dog. We brought him to an orthopedic vet who x-rayed him and pointed out that Griff will have hip dysplasia when he’s older. His pelvis bone displayed the tell-tale signs of not having a socket to house the top of the femur. This vet also said that he’s seen older Labs who didn’t look like they were dysplastic until he x-rayed them because the scar tissue and tendons were holding the leg into place. He said to exercise Griff often, keep his weight down, and chances are he’ll be one of those dogs who won’t suffer from dysplasia when he’s old.

As a result Griffen jogs with me every day so we can both keep our weight down. I remember the first time I ever took him jogging with me. I clipped him into his leash when he was only a few months old, and he dragged behind me, not quite sure what was going on. He quickly tired out, as he didn’t have a sense on how to pace himself over a 3 mile jog. His legs were short and stubby, as he bounded down the street at my heels. I kept taking him with me, and eventually he understood not to put the leash in his mouth, not to encircle my legs, not to cross my path. In fact, he knows that when I bark out the command “Left!” he is to move over to my left side. He learned the hard way not to sniff something on the ground right in front of my feet, as I wasn’t paying attention and kicked him in the face one winter as we were walking in the snow.

This morning my alarm went off, and he came over to my side of the bed and rested his head on the mattress as he does almost every morning. He let out that Labrador sigh that often means that he needs something from his people. I rolled over, and his chocolate brown eyes sparkled just as they did when he was a puppy—what I’ve come to call his “Puppy eyes.” He hopped back from the bed, and did that dance he does when he’s excited to go somewhere. Griffen’s come to love our morning jogs just as much as I do. And not wanting to let him down is what gets me out of bed and into my running clothes every morning.

We’ve jogged the same route so many times I could blindfold him and he would know our route. He knows which houses have dogs, and as these dogs bark from behind a closed window he will gaze at them defiantly as he pees on their lawn. He knows where that pit bull will come running out from behind a house at the end of our route, and he will raise his hackles for an entire block before we get to that house—just so he can look bigger as he shyly skulks away from the dog.

This morning I was looking at the muscle tone on his back legs, and marveling at how sculpted his legs are from all the running. I really hope I’ve done enough to keep his muscles strong and toned so far so he won’t end up dragging his back end when he’s old. All I want is to keep jogging with Griffen every day for the rest of his life.

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Blogger Gypsy said...

Dogs are great motivators. :)

October 8, 2007 at 8:16 AM  
Blogger *~*Cece*~* said...

He's a lucky dog!

October 8, 2007 at 11:34 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What a special dog!!! He's a great motivator to keep you moving. Too bad I'm getting a munchkin dog :)

October 9, 2007 at 6:26 PM  
Blogger Jen said...

Aww, puppy schnuppers. You've done a good job, and I'm sure it's helping both of you!! Give him a kiss for me.

October 9, 2007 at 9:36 PM  
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