Four-Legged Training Partners

Training partners are great, they’ll keep you motivated and oftentimes push you to your threshold of suffering. One of my best friends and training partners for running has four legs and is named Shay.

We found Shay on Petfinder at a rescue near White River Junction. When we first met him, he was very timid and skiddish. Upon introduction to him, his tail went between his legs and he wouldn’t come within 10 feet of us, staying close to the woman at the shelter.  We ended up hanging out with Shay and getting to “know each other” for about two hours. At one point he urinated on a bag of dog food in the house. My wife and I looked at each other and kind of chuckled with a confused look and then looked at the woman. “Don’t worry, he’s  just marking what he thinks is his,” she said as he jumped up onto a couch. What we really liked about Shay is that he was described as an outdoor dog that can hike for hours, or just be content lying around. We decided to take the plunge and take him home with us, but first we had to get him in the car. That was a chore, he wouldn’t budge and he was scared. We had no idea what this guy had been through. He was in the south and then had been trucked up here. He finally got in and we were on our way.

The next morning I took Shay for a trail run. Getting him in the car was a chore again! He did what we ended coining the term “stonewall,” where he would just sit down and not move while he just stared at us.  I had to go over and pick him and put in the car. When we arrived at Equinox Pond, I put him on a lead and he jumped out of the car and charged it! Boy, could he go! When ended up doing a 5K and his tail was up in the air the whole time while he was out and running! Over time, I stretched the distances to see how far he could go and I learned some things about our smart, four-legged friend. Shay is a fall/winter/spring dog, in the summer with his black coat he overheats way too quickly. He prefers running on trails versus roads. He, like myself, does not like out-and-back routes, maybe because there are no new smells on the way back. Oh, and he just loves snow!

Shay and I have covered many miles together since that first run three years ago, and the puppy in him is still strong (though sometimes he moans like an old man when I move him from my spot in bed). He’s still timid, but has gotten much better, and is very well mannered. He’s pretty smart as well, when I turn on my Garmin Forerunner he knows that I’m going running, and he jumps down off the bed upstairs and comes running down with his tail wagging and begins to “stretch,” first his front legs then his back ones. If I take too long, he’ll let out a little bark, then the longer I take, the louder the bark. Sometimes I try to be sly and throw him off. I’ll go down into the basement and get into my running gear, but as soon as I sit down on the floor upstairs to put on my shoes he comes running down.

So if you’ve got a pooch, chances are he wants to get after it with you, so the two of you should get out there!

—Greg

Greg Rems

Greg Rems

Avid Vermont enthusiast, be it telemarking, cycling, running, hiking, or anything outside. Chef de Cuisine the Inn at West View Farm in Dorset, Vt. Living in Arlington.