I am not a dog person

May 26, 2006

But Liz is, and a couple months ago we adopted Lucy, a 4-year-old Australian shepherd / border collie mix, from the pound.

Liz is Lucy’s primary caregiver but is out of town for four days this week, so I’ve had to revise my attitude toward Lucy from “indifference” to “polite acknowledgment.” She’s become another distant colleague whose work I don’t fully understand.

Canines can have a maximal oxygen consumption (VO2max) of well over 200 milliliters per kilogram of body mass per minute; I suspect that Lucy’s is quite a bit lower than that. Like a novice cross-country runner, she goes out fast, slows way down after the first couple miles, and occasionally veers off course. She seems to be developing some racing tactics, though; yesterday I could swear that she was boxing me in as we ran beside a long fence, presumably to slow me down to her preferred pace. I wasn’t sure whether to be proud of her cleverness or annoyed that she was trying to set up a kicker’s race.

Ultimately I responded with a hard one-minute surge to put her into oxygen debt. I may not be a brilliant strategist, but I know how to get the best of an out-of-shape dog.

Who wouldn't love Lucy?


  1. This entry totally cracks me up! Lucy sounds like my dog, Ajax. Ajax is a hungarian Vizsla so he is meant to be in a field all day hunting. He is an amazing runner, but he has NO sense of pace 🙂 He likes to take the first mile out in 6:15, and then we keep up 6:40s until about mile 4 . . . then he starts to lag behind me and he usually calls it quit at mile 5. I have been trying to teach him pace, but to no avail. So now I run with him when I am planning a short 5K tempo run or "speed" work.Lucy and Ajax should race!

  2. Hi Greg,It seems your blog is going to be very entertaining. Welcome to the blogging world!My dog is a border collie (perhaps with a little Aussie mix), and she's a runner, too. It took her a bit, but now she's learned pacing and can keep up with any run I do. I also trained her to run (on or off a leash) on my right side, to curb her herding tendency, which she totally used to do!

  3. Wow! bridget has a dog named Ajax! We named our cat Ajax because Achilles was to long. My wife is into the Greeks and Romans.So no surprise that our dog is named Mars. He seems to have unlimited energy for runs as long as he's interested, but once he becomes bored he pretends to be tired so he can sniff more thouroughly. On runs less traveled he's pulled me along for a couple hours, on our usual routes he's become "tired" after 20 minutes or so. Unless he spies a squirrel. He's never been to tired to freak out when he sees a squirrel.Curiously, what is a humans VO2max as compared to a dogs? And will we see you and Lucy at the Furry 5k?

  4. The highest-ever-recorded VO2max's have been in the low 90s, I think. Lance Armstrong and Steve Prefontaine have both been measured at 84; I was once measured at 70. Normal values for young, moderately active people are about 45 for men and about 38 for women.Furry 5K? No, I'm afraid not. Pairing a hypercompetitive guy with a distractable, low-fitness dog would result in an unpleasant race experience for both, I fear.

  5. Hope your dog becomes a runner. I "burned out" two of my dogs by trying to get them to run too much, too young. Now I have "Tucker" who is a maniac runner. Today he ran 2x, plus chased me on a mountain bike ride at St. Edwards. Finally he has calmed down.

  6. "I am not a dog person" … maybe you should reconsider, because there are some competitive possibilities: A few years ago, at my wife's suggestion I ran the "LA Dog Jog" in Brentwood, CA, with her dalmatian/pointer mutt. The main rule for this two mile race is that you can't pull on the leash. When the race began, the field went through the first 200 meters in what felt like 15 seconds. Then the dogs settled down. Molly and I started working our way up the field, picking off comptetitors. I was getting excited. Then, after a mile, she lay down for a rest. Dooh! I was hating the no-pull rule. Eventually she decided to get up and we finished the race in 13 minutes or so.Afterwards I ran into the winner, (2:13 marathoner) David Olds who, running with his Weimaraner, took the title in 10:10.Looks like there's a similar event in *this* town next month.http://www.dogjog.org/about.aspMaybe this is a chance for a new relationship between you and your wife's dog! :^)

  7. Balto, I appreciate the suggestion, but see my earlier comment about the Furry 5K, the Seattle equivalent of the Dog Jog. Given my intensely competitive nature, I'm sure I'd get frustrated with Lucy if she didn't perform well. It's important to me that she enjoy going outside and exercising, and I don't want my ego to get in the way of that.

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