Whenever I travel internationally (which isn’t that often!) I enjoy seeing the dogs working the customs beat. I had a greater appreciation for them once we had a beagle, but I’ve always thought that they are pretty cool.
I’m also fascinated by the many different ways that dogs can be trained as service animals to help people with different needs–from physical disabilities to epilepsy. There are amazing stories of service dogs saving the lives of their people.
All this got me thinking–wouldn’t it be great to have a service dog for runners?
Tiger Lilly used to be a good running companion, but I need a dog that will keep me out of trouble–and not just by scaring “bad guys” away.
The main job of a runner’s service dog would be to keep the runner from getting injured. This might mean refusing to go up ridiculously steep hills, holding back from a “too fast” pace, or insisting on turning around instead of going for just “one more mile.”
The most elite service dogs also would be able to sniff out and pinpoint any injury that does arise. What runner hasn’t had a mystery ache that seemed to relocate as soon as it was diagnosed? If dogs can be trained to detect cancer, surely they can be taught to sniff out the difference between an ITB injury and a piriformis strain. And if its nose is cold enough to substitute for an ice pack, even better!