Canines can boost health and well-being

Fitness trainer Shaheem Laattoe said his dog Bailey challenges him when he takes her for a run.

Establishing an exercise routine takes time but having a canine partner alongside you can make it all the more fun. Fitness trainer Shaheem Laattoe spoke to ROSHAN ABRAHAMS about training with your dog as they can be an important source of motivation when out running, boost your sense of health and well-being and keep both of you in tip-top shape.

Honor Whiteman, Editor In Chief at Medical News Today, wrote in one of her news articles (June 2, 2017): “On arriving home after a long, stressful day at work, you are greeted at the door by an overexcited four-legged friend. It can’t fail to put a smile on your face. Pet ownership is undoubtedly one of the greatest pleasures in life, providing companionship and giggles galore. But the benefits do not end there; your pet could be doing wonders for your health and well-being.”

Shaheem had always wanted a dog so when his children started bugging him to get one, he decided to adopt Bailey. “I looked at various breeds and how they would suit our lifestyle as well as the breed’s temperament, and I decided to go for a staffie.”

Shaheem takes Bailey out on long walks and runs about thrice a week and shorter outings at a nearby park during the week. “Dogs love exercise, on top of that it’s also very important to give your dog tick and flea tablets once a month especially if you are out on the trails.”

Running with a dog can be challenging but Shaheem is always up for it and, he said, they keep you on your toes. “Some days you want a slow walk but when their feet start moving, you have to keep up with them. So it’s always fun and challenging.”

He said it can become exhausting at times especially if your dog is not trained and because you don’t know how other dogs you come across may interact. “If it’s a familiar route, she is comfortable and goes exploring on her own but we always keep an eye on each other.”

Shaheem has been running with Bailey mainly at beaches and on hikes. “The furthest she ran with me on a hike was 12km and the highest she had been was to the summit of Devil’s Peak,” he said.

As for any outdoor exercise lover they are faced with risks and Shaheem suggested caution after his dog was attacked about a month ago by a Rottweiler in their area. “I have recently started taking Bailey on long walks/runs again. She was limping badly after (being attacked) but seems to be doing much better now.”

The rule as a dog owner is to have them on leashes.

“We also have to have a licence for the dog, so they are permitted to be on the trails in Table Mountain National Park. The information is available on the City of Cape town’s website,” he said.

Running with your dog raises one’s spirit. “I think we are a great team. It’s very heart-warming and fulfilling to see how she appreciates nature knowing what she has been through in the past and now you are able to give this animal a better life.”

A quote that resonates with Shaheem when he runs with man’s best friend is: “Four paws, two feet, one team .”