Today saw my first ever attempt at ‘dogging’ with my willing accomplice Heidi. The ‘dogging’ in question is CaniX - Cani-Cross, or to put it in simpler terms: cross country running with a dog.
Ever since I’ve been running the Brutal10 races I’ve been aware of CaniX and the growing popularity of people running with their canine companions. Each time I’m at a Brutal event there seem to be more of them lined up and I love the sight of hounds all raring to go at the start, all barking in anticipation of a good run… The enthusiasm of the dogs is contagious and acts as a great spur to the other runners present as you wait to go run in the normal 10k race.
The CaniX explosion doesn’t seem to be confined to the Brutal races as I’ve been soundly beaten in various marathons by people running with their dogs and Endurancelife have now ensured that all their races are dog-friendly with water bowls for the hounds at all the aid-stations.
At the marathons, the dogs I have seen have been for the most part collies and their crosses, german shepherds, huskies or larger spaniels - in other words larger dogs that have the energy and stamina to keep on going over such a long distance. With the distance at the Brutal’s being considerably shorter, the cast of canines is more diverse - I’ve seen all sorts from lumbering overweight rottweillers to sprightly jack russells, so having a dog at home that is suitable for the Brutal distance of 10k is far easier… Which is where Heidi comes-in.
My two dogs are both Cavalier King Charles Spaniels - a dog that was bred for sitting on your lap and keeping you warm, that and that alone! They’re low maintenance, with a fantastic temperament very affectionate and love to give you cuddles. Exercise wise, they’re happy just to hang-around the house sleeping, but once you get them out they enjoy being able to have a gallop - especially when off the leash.
Ruby, the older of the two was definitely not an option for running with - she is too small and certainly not inclined to anything remotely athletic. Heidi on the other hand…
Heidi is a throwback. The Cavaliers were bred from crossing Springer Spaniels with Pugs - hence a lot of the Cavaliers having pretty squashed faces. Not Heidi. Heidi looks like a miniature Springer - and has the mentality of one, loving to be outside and running. She is taller than most of her breed and a lot sleeker by build and when out on walks she doesn’t seem to stop running, probably covering twice the linear distance on a walk.
Over the Christmas period I ordered a CaniX running harness that has been sitting at home waiting to be used and today the opportunity finally arose.
|The 'Trixie' CaniX harness.|
After a good 6 mile walk with LSS and the dogs this morning - taking advantage of the first clear rain-free Sunday of the year, I saddled up Heidi in the afternoon for her first running experience. I chose to take an easy 2.5 mile route that was fairly flat, but for a good mile of it, it was pure puddles and mud - something Heidi will need to cope with if she is ever going to be able to complete a Brutal run with me.
|The 'before' shot having just got out the front door.|
|And we're off!|
On returning she looked like this:
Reflecting on the run, I think Heidi coped very well with this first attempt, especially considering she had already walked for a good 10k a couple of hours before hand. I now know that she’s capable of getting out and running with me without being dragged along, so a few more practices - especially over a 10k distance and I reckon she’ll be fine with going out and doing a Brutal with the other CaniX hounds.
Here’s a tired Heidi on the sofa snuggling looking all sorry for herself surrounded by a furry blanket and cushions as she dries off: