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Dog Walking: 'I don't take them for a walk -- they take me!'

Walkies! Man's best friend could soon become girl's best friend tells garage owner Sue Gorman (30) from Castlecoote, Co Roscommon, who burns calories with Canicross -- taking the dog for a walk with an extreme twist.

"I've had Lexi (an Alaskan Malamute) and Cotton (a Samoyed Husky) since they were pups. As a dog owner, you've no excuse not to exercise -- your dog has to be walked. But pounding the same pavement over and over can get pretty boring for both the dog and owner.

"So when I saw an ad for a weight-pulling competition for sled dogs, I entered Lexi and she won. That's how I heard about Canicross -- cross-country running for sled dogs without the snow.

"When a dog is on a lead, its natural instinct is to tug ahead. But with Canicross, the dog is attached to your waist by a bungee cord -- allowing the dog to run ahead rather than trying to hold it back. I don't take Lexi and Cotton for a walk -- they take me!

"At first, I found it quite tough. But now the three of us jog along up and down hills and through forest trails. I've definitely lost weight and become a lot fitter.

"And the dogs love it too; the minute they see the harness, they go wild. Mushing is in the blood of sled dogs, but the beauty of Canicross is that any dog can do it -- I even know a girl who runs with her Chihuahua! Practically every family in Ireland has a pet dog.

"My four-year-old son loves it as well. When I first started running with Lexi and Cotton, the neighbours thought I'd lost the plot -- now the dogs are like local celebrities. Your friends might come up with excuses not to go to the gym with you, but your dogs will never let you down."


Irish Independent