This is Oscar. He is a bad dog.
We bought Oscar in France back in March 2012, a few months before moving back from Switzerland. We had just put down our Dachshund, and though HH wanted me to wait, I couldn’t live without another dog, and I was determined to find a running partner. I did my research, searching for a non-shedding breed with plenty of energy. I settle on the Wire Haired Pointing Griffon breed and knew it would be perfect. High energy, non-shedding, wash-and-wear, born to hunt but happy to just be with its family…sold!
When I met 10-week old Oscar, it was love at first sight. HH thought he was ugly and strange-looking. I thought he was the most perfect puppy I had ever seen–and given that he had one undescended testicle, he was 200 euros cheaper. Discount!
Oscar sailed through his international move and passed basic and advanced obedience classes. He is an angel. I almost think he could be a therapy dog that visits nursing homes, because he has the sweetest and most gentle temperament—but he suffers from two major issues.
He is a major crotch sniffer/bell ringer, which I can’t imagine would fly with the elderly.
He pulls on a leash RELENTLESSLY, especially if he sees a bird or squirrel, which seems to happen every few seconds in our neighborhood. Haters gonna hate, hunters gonna hunt!
I can give up on the therapy thing, but the pulling is a major issue for my running plans. He drags me down the street, all 60 pounds of him, and by a mile or two in, my arm is killing me, my whole body is out of whack and I’m feeling barfy because I’ve been sprinting. Also, he NEVER gets tired, no matter how long I try to stick it out.
I’ve tried various chest harnesses and the Gentle Leader. Nothing works. When I give the correction and his body/nose turns toward me, it’s almost like he just gives me a smile like, “Cool, huh?” and keeps going. I even bought a belly harness that was guaranteed to lift him up by the stomach back near his hind legs when I jerked on the leash. All it did was inspire him to start bounding and pushing off with his front legs. He is just too strong.
When I walk him, he will heel for short periods. He knows to sit when I stop walking, and he knows the commands for left and right turns. But he will NOT heel for runs. Ever.
Until this past summer, he wasn’t really old enough to run with yet, so our runs were sporadic and exhausting. Then over the summer, it was easy to just leave him at home. He was too overheated to run anyway (he’s very French, and the extreme Midwest temperatures are too much for him, I think.) But now, it’s gorgeous, and the beast needs more exercise than he gets from just chasing little Stella around the house.
I tried a leash of last resort today–a waist belt. The belt attaches around my waist, so I don’t have to use arm strength to try and keep him under control. I crossed my leash-free fingers, and we headed out for my first shake-out run since last weekend’s kickass half marathon.
Heaven! I just went ahead and let him go in front of me. Most of the time, he stayed over to my left side but up in front. He was pulling, but I didn’t feel it nearly as much since it was against my whole body and not just my arm. Even better, he still listened to my left and right turn commands, so we navigated the route perfectly!
They see me rollin’
We ran an easy 2.75 miles, and I was able to keep the pace I wanted (that is, SLOW) instead of being forced along at his desired 7:00 mile. I am so excited. The leash and the pressure didn’t bother my back or anything, so I’m hopeful that I will have a constant running companion in these upcoming winter months.
Even better than the run? Seeing a tired dog relaxing in the family room…
Good dog, Oscar!
Songs to Run To With Your Dog: Been Caught Stealing by Jane’s Addiction, She Wants to Move by N.E.R.D., Bitter Rivals by Sleigh Bells