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News Archive

Running with Dogs - Man and Animal in Partnership

Patrick Kiernan, a doctor in London and veteran or masters runner of high

standard, has two types of training partner: the team-mates from his club,

Heathside, who run over the hilly landscape of Hampstead Heath in north London,

and his two dogs, Moffy and Jimmy. Kiernan is an interesting example in any

case: a late beginner, though he always kept himself active and cycled to and

from his medical practice in Kensington, he didn get involved in serious

running till he was 48. Within two years hed twice run the Flora London

Marathon with impressive times of 3:11 in April 2003, as a celebration of his

50th birthday, and 3:06 the following year. Hes also run 37:40 for 10kms on the

road and 1:24 for a half-marathon.

He does the bulk of his training with Moffy and Jimmy. Moffy is a

three-year-old whippet cross and Jimmy, the younger dog, is a greyhound with a

touch of Afghan hound. "The dogs are company and also a good reason to get

out running either early morning or in the evening," Doctor Kiernan

explains. "Jimmy is always ready for a fartlek or speed session, though

Moffy (named after the Greek for Love) has slowed down a little these days,

Jimmy is always up for it." He adds that its important to have dogs well

trained before you contemplate taking them running.

Patrick almost always trains with one dog, sometimes both of them. If hes

the only human athlete among the party, the routine goes as follows: walk or

jog with the dogs to Hampstead Heath (he lives just five minutes away). He

always carries a plastic bag, in case a dog needs toilet facilities during the

session. As soon as they reach the green, hilly expanse of Hampstead Heath,

they start the warm-up run. "The dogs have to have their play, running to

and fro, then they adjust better to following me in the training

session."

Then its off the lead and away. Patrick often runs a kind of fartlek, since

"Dogs have no sense of a steady pace." This freedome, this

fundamental running in the open, has hardly held Kiernan back, considering his

performances so far. Three years ago he was on holiday on the Isle of Wight,

off the south coast of England. There he met a runner who told him about a

10-Mile race on the island. He took part, finished in "much, much more

than an hour!" Congratulations are due then, for his very impressive

progress.

When Patrick does his long Sunday run with his clubmates, Moffy and Jimmy

usually come along. He firstly asks the group if its okay. "Sometimes I

forget that the dogs are there, then I have to break away and go looking for

Jimmy." And sometimes Jimmy comes back with his findings, giving Patrick

the task of trying to free a squirrel.

"Their fitness for about an hour is very good, but usually they can

manage any longer. Both dogs are built for speed and if they don feel like

running, they simply stop on the spot! But without them I wouldn have had the

same motivation, they are my pacemakers."

There is a negative side, or perhaps better put, dogs can create

difficulties, especially when they meet other dogs. Theres nothing for it but

for Patrick to run around in circles until Jimmy and Moffy have had their play.

"You feel proud, running with dogs." As he prepares for the Flora

London Marathon 2005, he makes a further point, since his wife Sarah is a keen

horsewoman: "Sometimes Ive run alongside her, she on a horse and with the

dogs. Its a fantastic feeling!" ANDY EDWARDS

 

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