Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Tom Rutlin's 21 Years of Nording Walking with his Canine Friends

====================================================================== Photo (left to right): Tom's canine friends Willy and Max, alongside Tom's wife Wendy, Tom himself and their friends Gerri and Ray.

To Jeanne (February 8th posting) and other dog loving Nordic Walkers: I have been Nordic walking with my canine friends for nearly 21 years now. My first dog Casey walked with me for more than 15 of his 17 years. (I'm convinced that he lived such a long, healthy life mainly because of our near daily 2-3 mile "quadruped strides" together.)

When Casey left us, we soon got Willy, and a year later, his brother Max (both Bijon Frise, cocker, poodle mixes). They both took to our walking with poles just as fast as Casey had.

We too have always used a waist pack and looped the leash around it. We've found over the years that a fixed length leash works best. If it is just a bit longer than from the waist to the ground, when fastened to the dog's collar it keeps them close enough, but not too close. (Since we began walking with two dogs at once, we've found that a single leash that has two short leads attached to the end keeps them striding along side one another and eliminates a May pole-like weaving of two leashes over the course of a walk.)

We are not dog trainers, but in each case so far it has taken very little time for our dogs to learn to walk either along side of us or just behind us.

They also learned very quickly the difference between walking for exercise and an ordinary "stop and sniff everything in sight" walk. When we pick up our poles and fasten them to the special leash they quickly learn to request stops only when it is actually necessary. They seem to love quadruped exercising walking every bit as much as we do.

When we walk them on an ordinary leash, they still seldom go more than a few feet without stopping to sniff and/or leave their marks.

Our dogs have all been around 10 pounds, but we have several friends with 60 pound plus labs and retrievers that have had pretty much the same experience. With larger dogs that have the potential to do some damage if they suddenly bolt after a squirrel of cat while fastened securely to you, I recommend the use of a leash with a section of sufficiently strong bungee cord attaching it to the belt or waist pack. That way if the dog suddenly pulls you'll have a chance to brace yourself and prevent a possible dislocation of some body part before it occurs.

When we pass others (bikes, cars, people or pooches) on the sidewalks, streeets or trails, I just hold both poles back to create a little chute-like enclosure (me as the front, the two poles as the sides and the length of the leash restricting escape from the back) and that way we don't end up creating an unwanted obstruction to traffic.

I hope these tips are useful to all who would like to share their Nordic walking experience with their canine friends.

Stay Well,

Tom Rutlin

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