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."