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More Barks About Dogs on Treadmills

Lisa's post about treadmills reminded me of a story I heard a few years ago--in New York City--concerning two pit bulls who dropped dead from heart attacks (or heat exhaustion? I can't remember) because they were being forced to run on treadmills. These were fighting-ring dogs, of course. They were tethered (chained!) to treadmills and forced to run in order to make them 'tough." Ack!

 

One of the "owners" of the dogs was actually quoted as saying something to the effect of: "Well, if he died, that means he wouldn't have been a good fighter." 

 

This is an extreme example, of course, of why it might be better to exercise your dog in the great outdoors rather than on a treadmill. But, my humble opinion is that these treadmill manufacturers are trying to convince dog guardians that it’s okay--even desirable--to substitute a treadmill session for an honest to goodness walk. (I might go so far as to say, "...to cut corners, and be lazy.") Next, they’ll be equipping their machines with built-in iPod docks and televisions, and selling us videos of squirrels, and iTune tracks of birds chirping or perhaps the theme from Rocky. "Your dog will be inspired to run for miles!"

 

Here’s what the people at www.jogadog.com promise use of their product will achieve:

  • End unruly behavior
  • Reduce risk of serious injury
  • Provide versatility in exercise
  • Develop muscle strength & stamina
  • Control your dog's exercise regimen
  • Provide exercise in adverse weather
  • Prevent obesity & associated problems
  • Improve health, well-being & longevity
  • Correct faults in movement on-the-fly
  • Exercise many dogs quickly & effortlessly
  • Condition muscles to show ring speed
  • Maintain a vibrant coat year-round

They conclude their sales pitch with: Designed with the input of veterinarians, physical therapists and engineers, JOG A DOG is truly the best exercise system available for the most discriminating consumer.

 

Hmmm......if you were sitting on your butt late at night watching television, and this commerical came on, and you were too tired to get up and turn it off, and you knew nothing about the needs of dogs, would you be tempted?  I wonder...

 

I am lucky that I live near the ocean, and that my dog gets to gallop along its shores every day. But even when I lived in the city, and it was 800 degrees below zero, my dog went outside for his exercise: off-leash, free, fluid, and blissful. That, to me, is 'truly the best exercise' a dog (or a human) can enjoy. Does that mean I am not a 'discriminating owner'?

 

Okay, I'll get off the bandwagon now. And I’m not trying to say that the people who exercise their Basset Hounds on treadmills are wrong or evil. "To each his own" is the motto I try to live by. But maybe our treadmill users are just a bit, well, misinformed. It’s likely they were informed by advertisers.

It’s our job, as dog lovers and Bark readers, to inform them otherwise. :)

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Lee Harrington is the author of the best-selling memoir, Rex and the City: A Woman, a Man, and a Dysfunctional Dog (Random House, 2006), and of the forthcoming novel, Nothing Keeps a Frenchman from His Lunch. emharrington.com
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