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Health Lessons from My Dog

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, Jenn and I love dogs. Especially our dogs (that’s mine pictured at left). And what’s not to love? Clothing covered in dog fur and toilet paper strewn about are a small price to pay for the many life lessons a dog will teach you.My pug, Marti, who wouldn’t survive but five minutes in the wild, has taught me how to care for another (extremely) dependent being. She’s taught me patience and how to wait things out (because I never thought she’d stop biting me or destroying my shoes, but she did). She’s taught me to enjoy the little things in life because apparently playing with toilet paper is SO MUCH FUN. She’s taught me the true meaning of dedication and loyalty because she won’t leave my side and shares a chair with me while I work at home. She’s also taught me that I’m a huge sucker for soft brown eyes and that I need to grow a backbone before I have kids or I’ll be a total pushover. And last but not least, she’s taught me many health lessons. Here are a few.

You Can’t Do “Nothing” and Expect Results
In Northern California, we don’t really get a cold winter. But we do get a winter that comes with rain. Rain every day. For weeks at a time. During these weeks, Marti and I avoided the wet treks to the dog park and went on bare minimum walks instead. This prevented Marti from eating copious amounts of mud at the park while also getting in the necessary potty walks. The result? A two-pound uptick when she got weighed at the vet recently. The lesson? You can’t decrease the exercise to almost nothing and maintain the food and treat intake without expecting some pounds to creep on.

If It Hurts, Don’t Do It
Now that the rain has gone, we’ve been hitting the park to work those pounds off. At the park, Marti has the honorable distinction of being the Most Submissive Dog Ever. She loves going to the park, but when a dog comes over to say hello, she immediately tucks her butt under, rolls on her side and plays dead. Usually the other dogs shrug their shoulders and trot off…and then Marti warms up and trots off after them. But sometimes dogs don’t know what to do when she doesn’t play. The other day, a mean bully of a dog started nipping and biting at her. He was just trying to get her to play, but it was way too aggressive and way too “going for the jugular” for both of us. The lesson? If it hurts, change the activity or give yourself the day off. We left the park and went on a walk instead.

Sleep, Lots of It
We all know how important it is to get your eight hours of sleep. Pug research shows that 16 to 18 hours of sleep is ideal. That might be pushing it for the average human who actually has work to accomplish in the day, but don’t underestimate the importance of a good night’s sleep and a good nap. The lesson? Play hard and sleep harder.

Go Minimal
Do pugs need complicated equipment or fancy pants to get a good workout? Heck no. They just need wide open spaces to run and maybe a ball to chase (but not necessarily fetch). It’s even more fun to chase your human or a friend or two. Lesson? Working out is better with a partner, but fancy pants are optional.


Self Challenge Update
Because Jenn had to go and be all inspiring, I’ve actually gone running three times in the past week. I’ve also gotten killer variety in my workouts. I’ve combined the running with Core Rhythms (review coming this week), workouts on the Wave, some tough ab work and some of my old standby Biggest Loser strength training. After my big break recently, the running is tough, but I’m slowly building back up.

For more of my workout trials and tribulations with the pug, check out how we exercise together and my Almost Fit guest post on doing yoga with her around.

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