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Rescued Dog Helps Owner Lose Weight by Running Daily

Published by
peteregan   May 16th 2012, 7:03pm

Dogs Provide Great Motivation and Incentive to Run, Walk Every Day

About four or five months ago, a stray dog showed up at my place of business and refused to leave. She was extremely skittish at the time, and wouldn't allow anyone to get close to her, which I'm told is a tell-tale sign of abuse. Finally, after a week or so of leaving food out for her, I was able to get her to wander inside the building, and snuck around the back while she was inside locking her in.

My first priority was to get her into the possession of someone other than myself who would take care of her and either find or provide her with a good home. That didn't happen.

The Humane Society deemed her "unadoptable", and refused to take her. The only other dog shelter in the area kills dogs that are unlikely candidates for adoption, so bringing her there was ruled out from the get-go.

After several weeks of trying to find her a good home, I finally gave up and accepted that she was now my dog. By then she'd grown on me, as I did her.

Lucky Dog: My Secret to Weight LossWhat I did not anticipate having recently moved to a beachside condo with no fenced in backyard in which to leave her was the daily walks, jogs and even runs on which she constantly begs me to take her. Given that I'd prefer to go for a mile-long jog than clean up dog waste off my floor or carpet, she usually gets what she wants in terms of both the frequency and duration of her walks/runs.

It wasn't until I decided to do a little bit of fishing some three or four months after I'd accepted her as my own responsibility that I became aware of how much weight I'd lost as a direct result of the exercise obtained via walking the dog (and jogging, and running with her). I was walking back to shore after throwing my line in the water when a wave that hit me from behind briefly brought the water-level to my lower torso, then dropped it to my knees as it passed me on its way to shore. With the water-level went my bathing suit, leaving my weight loss secret exposed, pun intentional.

The point of the story is that I've been able to lose twenty-something pounds, and several inches from my waist. The only real exercise I engage in is running with the dog. While I could never had foreseen in a million years that my act of kindness in taking in a starving and badly abused puppy would lead to me being in the best shape I've been in since my late teens or early 20's (I'm 30 at present).

For the better part of a decade I'd steadily outgrown every pair of pants I owned, with seemingly no end in sight. I'm not the athlete I was when I was younger, and had pretty much lost hope that I'd ever recapture the amazing degree of fitness I enjoyed during my athletic career in high school and college.

I hurt my back lifting weights about five years ago (shoulder press was the culprit), and have since had to occationally wear an industrial-grade lumbar sacral support on-and-off, particularly during exercise. Running does seem to aggravate the injury, but I can get Biofreeze at wholesale prices (I use it daily, going through an entire 16 ounce bottle every month), and recently scheduled a visit with a chiropractor that several of my friends swear by.

In any case, for anyone struggling to lose weight, as long as you're a responsible, kind and good-hearted personon, one way to motivate yourself to exercise is to adopt a dog from a shelter, presuming you don't already have one. The younger the dog, the better. My dog, who is named "Lucky Dog" both for her plight as well as after the famous street-side hot dog stands on Bourbon Street and around downtown New Orleans, was about ten months old when she arrived starving and half-dead. She's now about a year and a half, and looking at her (and me) you'd never guess that just a few short months ago she was half her weight and I was considerably above my current one.

I would like to reiterate that this suggestion only applies to those who are mature, responsible and stable enough to make for a good pet owner, as owning a dog is not for everyone. This is particularly true for anyone prone to violent behavior, anyone who is lazy or anyone who lacks the financial resources necessary to provide adequate care - veterinary and otherwise - for the animal. If you are not described in the previous sentence and do not currently own a dog, a visit to your local animal shelter may well be in your best interests - both in terms of fitness and overall fulfillment in life.

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