Dogs like mine make excellent running companions — they want to spend time with their masters, they don’t talk and they help ward off creepy would-be attackers.
Phoebe, my Golden Retriever-Border Collie mix, has always been my running buddy. She’ll be eight years old in October, and she’s pounded the pavement with me for more than half her life, all told.
What I didn’t realize until late last week, was that the other half of her running life — or lack thereof — has been affected by my injuries.
You can imagine, then, the exercise needs my dog has.
Phoebe has a dog walker visit her every day. I walk her a few times a day. And when I was healthy, I took her running for three-, four-, five- and six-mile runs several times a week.
She has exactly zero miles under her belt this year. We’re nearly halfway through the year.
I may be able to hit the gym and ride the stationary bike, lift weights or hop in the pool, but what is a sidelined pup to do?
My latest injuries have prohibited me from taking Phoebe on walks longer than a couple of blocks. And even the park is too far away on foot. Fortunately I have a dog-loving boyfriend and friends who help out when they can. But my high-energy pooch needs more.
Enter a duty I was doing for work last week: looking for a “job of the day” for FOX Chicago News. I stumbled across a listing for “dog runner” on Craigslist (by the way, the position has since been filled). It was a perfect fit for our segment — and it was something I hadn’t previously considered or known was available in Chicago for Phoebe.
So I sent an e-mail to the owner of Chicago Dog Runner, David Hill. After a few tries we finally connected, and he met me and Phoebe at our place Wednesday night after work.
David has more than 8,000 dog-running miles under his belt. He has a whole team of runners who love dogs and logging miles.
And now he has a new client.
Phoebe is going to get once-a-week runs from either David or a member of his team. (I’d do more, but it’s not like I can request dog-running reimbursement from my FSA.) I signed Phoebe up for three sessions — David has an intro rate of three runs for $65 (one-hour runs regularly cost $29 each, or $25 each when booked in five- or 10-packs). And we’ll see from there.
David promised to work Phoebe up to running the whole time. We wouldn’t want her to end up actually hurt, like momma.