Born to Run (and how humans can help make it happen)

by Petey the Golden
(Phoenix, Az)

I know, I know- walking keeps my human pack members in shape and gets them to wherever they want to go, but it isn't the speed I want to go. I'm a two year old golden retriever and running is my calling. Most of my canine buds feel the same way. To help your dog stay healthy, most of us need and want more than a walk down the sidewalk each day.

Except for my puppyhood in the Tucson desert, I've lived and visited places that really aren't dog- ready. Dogs need to be unrestrained and out in open space to run free! We all don't live in the Tucson desert or on a lovely private beach, but there are MANY ways human pack mates can make fun-run play moments happen each day for their canine pack member.

I hope you lap up my dog/fun run ideas for enjoyment with your canine friend. My golden ratings (3, 4 and 5 golden paw prints) have been pawfessionally tested by me and a wide variety of my canine types. The ratings run from good to great and are based on amount and quality of running and fun a dog would get out the setting. For example, the setting is printed with 5 golden paw prints if we can run fast and far (Oh - my tail starts a-thumping just thinking about it!).

Rated 3 Golden Paws Prints

Backyard bouncing fun- Even in small back yards, dogs can have fun chasing a ball, frisbee or other toy. Human pack mates need to be creative and make the yard dog-friendly (e.g.move objects and plants that can hurt your dog pal while playing)

Front-yard frolics- The front yard, drive-way or court yard is another fun place to play. I love chasing the ball from the driveway then around the courtyard wall to the tiny front patio(never know where I'll find the ball). I don't get to run far or fast, but it's fun and I do get tired. Humans may need to pick the right time of day with fewer distractions around if you have a canine, like me, that will run over to check out neighborhood activity. (Never put your dog in danger of getting hurt or lost- you would be sad - so will your pup.)

Cul-de-sac crazies- Early in the morning when others aren't around, find a cul-de-sac to frolic in. It's a great place to run and chase the ball. Just watch for early risers coming down the street.

Rainy day rendezvous - On early mornings when its raining, go to a multi-level parking structure at a mall. We go to the highest level and she throws the ball and I chase it. (She finds the cleanest level for us to play- less car grease on my paws- love her!).

Rated 4 Golden Paws Prints

Dog parks Petite - At a small dog park (like Capehart dog park in San Diego) usually an acre or less is available to play and run. While these are bigger than my tiny backyard, a big dog can't get in a good run. You'll know it's small when you don't need to or can't use a ball thrower. Pawnote: Did you ever notice that the little dogs area is always nicer (more shade, more grass- why is that?)

Neighborhood Nice-to-Have - This can be a grassy area in front of a school or park and recreation area. Usually dogs aren't allowed off leash, so you will have to go early in the morning (or late at night) when others aren't around so you won't disturb and don't get kicked off the grounds. Play and be nice and always leave everything better than you found it.

Off-road Running- These are paths or areas off the highway we find on our road trips. These play times are usually short but varied and fun. Watch for hazards like glass and sticker patches- they will dash away a happy day and hurt a tender paw. I ran into a sticker patch once - yoww-wee!

Rated 5 Golden Paws Prints

Grande Dog Park Places- I love large dog parks! Two or more acres is best. The more room to run the better. Gotta have some grass too.

Lovely Large Leash-only Parks - This would be a neighborhood park WITHOUT an off-leash area for dogs. Again, go early in the morning (or late night) when others (park rangers) aren't around so you don't get kicked out or fined.

Trio trail - There's nothing more doggie wonderful than running free on a desert, mountain or beach trail. I've done this from time to time since I was a pup. I run ahead and stay within earshot of my human pack mates and come back frequently to check on them (or when they call).

Beach runner- Running on the sand and in the surf at the beach is dog freedom at it's best. There are no dog sounds or human words to adequately describe all my senses turning on high as I'm licking sea salt off my lips, trotting along on the soft sand and feeling the cool breeze through my thick double coat.

Pawnote: I adapted Bruce Springsteen's 'Born to Run' for those not so fortunate canines. Please adopt a dogs still living in shelters.

Sung or howled to Bruce Springsteens' Born to Run:
In the day we sweat it out in the yards of a runaway American dream
At night we dream of running through acres and acres of glorious green
Sprung from crates when you're home at 9
Can't stretch, pent-up, barking cause we wanna feel fine
Gr--rrr, some keep us bored, lying on our back
It's a death trap, like being dognapped.
We gotta get out while we're young
'Cause dogs like us, ye-es we were born to run

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