Roman Joins the Ranks

Man! I don’t know what it is with the arrival of spring. Maybe it is just the good feeling of breaking out of an extremely long winter this year, or maybe it’s me getting (gulp) more mature and responsible. Whatever the case I feel energized! I love the sun. I’ve reflected on the past year to see what I’ve done right and wrong and know what I need to do this year.

But for today it felt good to ride my road bike after months of waiting and to dress on the lighter side. Music I’ve heard a thousand times before sounds fresh and I feel like I’ve achieved something new in my own playing, an awareness that has only occurred a few times before.

So, spring is here, life is good and I have a new task ahead of me. Six months ago I added a Weimaraner puppy to my household and now Roman is almost 8-months old and full of energy. He’s a smart pup, got the basic commands down and a few obedience classes under his collar. He loves hiking and running in the woods, listens off-leash as long as I have a pocket full of treats, and is now just about ready to begin mountain biking with me. In issue #111, Karen wrote an article ‘Singletrack Hounds‘ and I recently revisited it to check out her suggestions. Come to find out, her article is pretty dead on and she mentions a few things that I’ve read in other places as well.
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One thing Karen’s article mentions, is that pups younger than 1-year old shouldn’t be run too hard, because of hip dysplacia and joint development, and I’ve researched the same conclusion as well. So I’m going to start at a soccer field near my house and have him concentrate on following me at a slow pace. The distractions there should be limited, there aren’t any trees for me to run into while coaching him and the perimeter is fenced in. Roman’s endurance and agility level should be alright for short rides while he gets comfortable running next to a bike and following my commands. His pack instinct is already really strong, so I’m sure he will want to stay with me.

The pads on his paws are pretty tough too. Roman’s been hiking with my girlfriend and me since he was 7-weeks old and has progressed from a 10-minute stroll to 2.5 hours of fun. His legs are definitely long and muscular, and his coordination and reaction speed has improved tremendously in the last month. I like to think it’s because of the indoor soccer I play with him using a tennis ball. He likes to cheat a little and bite my feet, so I just tackle him to keep it fair. He’s healthy, well fed and fast! But we are still going to take it slow to moderate.

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Once Roman is following my guidance consistently on the soccer field, I’ll take him to the same trails he hikes on and pick the pace up as he matures. I figure a recognizable place will be good for him and I know when and where the most people visit the park, so his introduction to mountain biking on single track will be done on off hours and on trails that are out of the way, for both of our safety. It will also be easier to keep him behind me on the narrow trails and reinforce that I’m the leader of the pack, a necessity in any dog training.

Keep an eye out for updates on Roman’s progression and what I’ve found works and doesn’t work for us. Maybe it will help you and your dog, or future puppy, enjoy the trails together and keep everyone healthy.

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