On May 19, 2015, Mike and I adopted Vinnie, a twelve week, twelve pound hound mix. We were in love with him and I started counting down to when he'd turn a year old and could start running with me.
Even as a puppy, he had the energy and love of running. He would chase a rope or a ball around the apartment for as long as you would be willing to throw it and be ready for even more. While I waited for him to be old enough to run, we got him trained for proper walking behavior and getting used to a harness.
Then, the day came for Vinnie's first run on February 15, 2016. It was warm enough, even though there wasn't snow on the ground and I was excited to see if Vinnie would take to running with me. Our first run was 3 miles around Lake Como in just over 35 minutes. And he loved it (although he did get distracted by other dogs).
After that, I slowly worked Vinnie up to running more often and for longer distances. I was training for my spring half marathons so he'd be my running buddy on training. Sometimes he got distracted by wildlife but he was always ready for a run. Even when we switched to morning runs before work so we wouldn't be running together in the summer heat.
It was a great way to get my runs in and give Vinnie the chance to get out his energy at the same time. Most of the times, he would run around the apartment like a fool as soon as we got home but he'd be much calmer in a couple of minutes. And it gave him a sense of purpose. Even now, when he hasn't run for almost 10 months, he knows what I'm doing when I get my running shoes on.
Vinnie had to stop running in October 2016, after just seven months of being my running partner. He started stopping randomly on runs, not wanting to go any further when just a couple of days before he was a running fool. We brought him into the vet, thinking he might be having an allergic reaction that was bothering him since his paw pads were getting red. The vet agreed that he was having an allergic reaction on his paws but didn't think that was the problem since Vinnie didn't seem to mind walking or having pressure put on his paws.
The problem was with Vinnie's back, at first the vet thought he had just moved it the wrong way and gave us some medicine to help with inflammation. We were to give it to Vinnie for two weeks, letting him rest during that time and try running again after that.
We were hopeful that it was a minor bump and that Vinnie would be back to running with us (by then Mike had started taking him on runs too). We tried taking him on a run after his rest period...and the same thing happened. Something still wasn't right.
We took him back in and this time the vet took x-rays of his back. The diagnosis? Degenerative disc disorder, specifically with the vertebrates right by Vinnie's back legs, which explained why he was stopping while running. It can be a common problem in beagles (which Vinnie has in his background according to a DNA test) but usually comes on in older dogs. Vinnie wasn't even two yet.
We decided to stop running with Vinnie, to keep his back from getting worse. Now, he's free to run around and play with dogs which he does without any pain. But running on a leash, especially for long distances, would cause too much stress on his back.
Of course, Vinnie hasn't backed down from being involved with my training. He's always there when I need supervision while foam rolling or doing yoga and he's helping me stay active with all the walks he wants to go on. Plus, he's my long run nap buddy and gives the best cuddles when I'm feeling worn out from the day.