Outdoor Running Adventures

Running in northern BC with my dog Kobi


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The Story of Kobi

Because I’m still on a running hiatus I felt compelled to write more about Kobi,  my running partner, super hero, dragon-slayer and best friend.

She was born on or around the end of September 2011 in the small Hamlet of Fort Liard, Northwest Territories.  Her and her four siblings were brought to my town by someone who had visited Fort Liard.  He was going to attempt to find homes for them.  I have no idea what happened to the mother.

3 puppies

The day I picked up Kobi and her 2 other siblings – 5 weeks old. She might be the one in the middle.

I came across the puppies on a random work visit.  It was turning very cold outside (late October) and the fellow who had the best intentions of helping/adopting them out was overwhelmed by 5 young puppies and the amount of poop they were producing.  My husband was away for the weekend and I felt I could take on the task of finding homes for these little guys before he even got home.  I dream big!

I took 3 of the 5 puppies as 2 were going to this fellow’s niece.  Then it was me and my cat’s turn to become completely overwhelmed by the crying and pooping.

I made a makeshift kennel in the shop out of television boxes and other random stuff.  I adopted the little black one out right away and then held onto the two white ones to make sure they went to really good homes.  Two weeks went by and I still had them.

two puppies

Kobi and her sister in the makeshift kennel

After spending a few weeks with these two, I was falling for the one with folded ears, not Kobi (upright ears).  Folded Ears was sweeter, calmer, and more affectionate, also a bit smarter.  I had tentatively adopted Kobi out twice.  The first person declined Kobi after thinking about it (she liked Folded Ears too, but I said I wanted her) and the second family called after four hours with Kobi and said it wasn’t working out, they had an older dog who wasn’t impressed with her.

2 puppies in the winter

Kobi is in the front, her sister is behind her.

Plan B.  I learned there was a young, super nice couple in town looking to adopt a puppy, but not until spring.  I knew how to play that card.  If I were to show up with two adorable puppies in tow at his place of employment, how could he say no.   I placed Folded Ears in his arms and knew I had him at hello.  He brought his wife over that evening and she quickly fell in love as well.

2 puppies sleeping

Kobi and her sister, Kobi is in the front again.

They took Folded Ears and named her Caribou.  I decided I’d keep the other one –  and named her Kobi.

I kept thinking back to Cesar Millan The Dog Whisperer and how he always says, “you don’t get the dog you want, you get the dog you need.”  That was Kobi.  She was beyond challenging in so many ways.  She seemed un trainable and was not food motivated so it made it very difficult to encourage her to do anything.  She hardly slept and had way too much energy.  She even went so far as refusing to use outside facilities until about 3 months old.  My work-out mat was preferable to the cold outdoors.

We would have playdates with Caribou who would dazzle us with her ability to perform at least 75 different tricks and stunts in three different languages (I’m exaggerating a little bit), and yet Kobi could barely manage “sit”.

two puppies sleeping

Kobi and her sister sleeping, Kobi is hanging her head over the cat bed

Then we started skiing and running together and our life changed.  She was finally content.  Her job is to be my playmate, or more like, my job is to be her playmate.  Her energy level is higher than mine, but she is a great middle-distance athlete.

As far as “areas of improvement”, she is a fearful dog and takes stranger danger to a whole new level.   If new people just ignore her entirely for 10-30 seconds while she checks them out, she’s cool.  Any attempt at touching her first does not go well.  I am constantly explaining to people not to touch, talk or look at her when she meets them for the first time.

dog outside

Kobi getting ready for take-off

Kobi learned to swim in July 2012.  The look on her face when she figured out she could move in this new element was priceless.  It was like a whole new world opened up for her.  She likes to swim for sticks, but she also just likes to swim and explore.  For this reason we stay away from the terribly large rivers that exist in this neck of the woods as she would definitely just swim out and get caught in the current.  My worst fear.

dog swimming

Kobi swimming

Kobi’s likes are her BFF’s:  Dino the wolf hound/Pyrenees, Ginger Daisy the Nova Scotia Duck Toller, her sister Caribou of course, and Kato the cat.  She also loves running and skiing, pool parties, car rides, sticks, blueberries, warm milk, slaying dragons, bouncing tennis balls, and mixed martial arts sparring with Kato.

dog and cat playing

Kobi and Kato sparring

dog eating blueberries

Kobi eating blueberries, she loves blueberries

Least favorite things:  strangers, oranges, and dogs that come into our yard uninvited.

She has tested me in ways I thought I would never tolerate, but she has also been the reason for so many great adventures.  She has shown me another lighter way of looking at the world.  She approaches every run, walk, ski or swim with unbridled enthusiasm.  Something we should all do.  I don’t regret her for a second.

dog and a purple dog toy

Kobi and her purple dragon


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Winter Wanders

Winter trees

The view during our ski. It was actually snowing really hard when I took this.

It’s been a week mixed with some sun and snow and slightly warmer temperatures.  But of course it’s the weekend now so the temperatures have dropped.  Yesterday was  -20C with a wind-chill of -27C and it’s currently -27C with a -31C wind-chill, but it is sort of sunny out.  It will likely start snowing soon because it seems to like to snow here.

This is how I looked last Sunday after running outside for 75 minutes in -25C, no clue on the windchill.

frozen runner

This is my winter ninja look.

I bought Kobi a pretty little red jacket.  I’m not certain if she needs one or not. She has a good coat of hair, but she is mostly an indoor dog unless we’re out on one of our daily adventures and I’m concerned she might get a bit cold sometimes.   I think I’ll just get her to wear it when it’s -20C or colder, warmer than that and I don’t think she needs it.

dog in winter jacket

Kobi sporting her Little Red Riding Hood jacket

She wanted to pull it off when she wore it for the first time, but during our weekend ski adventure she didn’t seem bothered by it at all and did all her usual dog stuff like pooping, rolling in snow, chasing squirrels and finding dead animal bones.

And for your viewing pleasure, I made this short work-out video with a friend this morning.  Check it out if you want to take your work-outs to a whole new level (and have snow).  Just a few notes:  I’m wearing the cool dark blue snowsuit, the other dog is Kobi’s BFF Ginger Daisy,  those are grosbeaks you hear in the background (birds at my bird feeder), it was -30C out when we did this, and remember you do any new work-outs at your own risk.


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Recovery Week, a Trail Run, and Now a Cold

dogs in the woods

Kobi and her BFF in the larch stand

I always like to take it easy the week after a race.  I think I just like an excuse to take it easy or I’m a bit lazy – maybe both.  I transitioned back into the exercise world later in the week with a swim, a yoga class and my favorite Rushift workout with GSP. 

I did my first post-race run on Saturday (16.4km).  Part of the run was in the community forest.  I haven’t seen any bears (including Hugo) or sign of them in weeks so I wasn’t worried about running in the woods at all (I did a test walk the day before on the trail and saw no signs either so I was pretty confident).  The squirrels and grouse are still out in full force though.  I think I counted at least 10 squirrels on the run.  Kobi probably counted more. 

I was thrilled to run with a friend and her dog so I had someone to chat away at and Kobi had someone to run with too.  I’ve been running on my own for so long now, it was nice to have company especially on a longer run.  I think I talk too much when I’m running with other people and I doubt I gave her a minute to say anything.  Clearly I need to get out more. 

I couldn’t resist a photo of this part of the trail.  It’s a larch stand and if you’re at all familiar with trees, you know that larch trees shed their needles for the winter (like a deciduous, but they’re a conifer).  This part of the trail was covered in larch needles.  It looks like coloured sawdust. 

The weather has been absolutely amazing this last little while.  If I was more dedicated I could have been cycling every day, but I’m not.  I’m also coming down with something and feel absolutely lousy.  I hate getting sick.  I have one more race to do this year at the end of November – the Vancouver Historic Half – so getting sick now is going to interfere with my training.  I hate that. 


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Wings Versus Feet

white dog rolling in sand

Kobi rolling in the dirt after our latest run, she wasn’t dirty enough I guess

The bears must be preparing for hibernation as I haven’t seen one in ages.  Nor have any concerned citizens stopped to warn me of any.  I was actually feeling a bit uncomfortable running outside because so many people kept stopping to warn me about bears.  I was beginning to feel they must think I’m stupid as I keep running outside regardless of their cautions. 

There is one particular warning that I will never forget.  A guy in a collector style convertible with 5 huskies in it stopped to warn me about a bear he’d recently seen in the area.  I was so surprised to see that many dogs in a convertible that I didn’t ask if I could take a photo, it would’ve been a cool photo. 

One critter I am seeing a lot of right now is spruce grouse (I think its spruce anyway).  I see them on all my runs and walks with Kobi, I can’t even count how many I’ve seen, well over 20 but some are likely repeats.  They do scare me half to death as they fly up at the very last second and are so well camouflaged I never see them until that last second.  Then I usually scream. 

I think flying up at the last second must be a grouse survival strategy.  This way if the predator has a weak heart, they will have a heart attack or possibly heart failure due to the surprise and won’t be able to catch the grouse for dinner. 

Often Kobi finds them first and I have noticed she has pointing skills (maybe she has some hunting breed in her genes).  She demonstrated them again on today’s afternoon walk.  I was wondering why she was standing so still in one spot looking, I thought she was just waiting for me (insert laugh here).  She had spotted a grouse and was watching it walk along the trail.  Don’t worry, it got away. 

I think she likes them better than squirrels right now as she thinks she has a better chance at catching one and they also seem to be in larger family units so instead of just one exciting animal to chase there are 4 or 5 of them.  I’ll stress again, she’s never caught one and I doubt she will ever catch one. 

I hope I don’t come across as a completely irresponsible dog owner as it probably appears that I let Kobi run wild and chase whatever she wants.  I guess I kind of do, but not really.  She wears an e-collar so I have contact with her at all times when we’re in our rural and remote areas and the buzz setting is all she needs to remind her to stop what she’s doing.  I do draw the line at chasing ungulates (deer and moose) and of course livestock.  Cows and horses mostly scare her anyway. 

Horses in a field

Horses we saw on one of our runs, Kobi did not chase them.

 


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Never Enough Time

many white dogs

Kobi Clones

Lately I’ve been feeling overwhelmed by the lack of spare hours I seem to have in a day.  By the time I get home from work, walk the dog (or run the dog), do some general tidying up, make my lunch for the next day (very important), make dinner, eat dinner, then do some more clean-up, it’s time for bed!!

This doesn’t even factor in cross-training, washing the floors, picking up the mail, buying groceries, or cleaning litter boxes.  I can’t imagine if there were kids in this picture!

I’ve decided that in order to do all these things relatively stress-free, I need to clone myself.  Wouldn’t that be awesome? 

Here’s what I need for clones:

  1. One that does the house-work, runs errands, watches some television to keep me up to speed on good sitcoms and what’s going on in Hollywood (and the world), as well as plays with the cats and dog
  2. A chef clone that does the cooking, baking, grocery shopping, lunch-making, and plays with the cats and dog 
  3. An exercise clone who would do all the exercising:  running, swimming, biking, walking the dog, weight training, etc (I think I want to be this one)
  4. A clone that is a chiropractor, massage therapist, physiotherapist specializing in sports medicine, and an investment specialist (we all need one of those)
  5. One of us would work full-time in order to cover the costs of our running obsession as well as eating habits and of course just to stay in touch with the outside world
  6. And finally, a spare clone to pick-up where the others might need help and to fill in if someone needs a sick day.

In my bizarre fantasy, we’d all get together at the end of the day over some nice herbal tea and chat about our day(s). 

Okay, don’t over think this as you’ll ruin it and of course don’t even begin to consider the moral rights issues, I’m trying to keep it light. 

Well, time to go walk the dog, tidy up the house, clean the litter boxes, make my lunch, make some dinner, clean-up some more…

Let me know how you fit it all in?  Do you prioritize or run anyway and deal with the messy kitchen later?


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The World Through the Eyes of Kobi

Dog on a dirt road

Kobi at the start of our walk

I am taking a few days off from running as I have an angry left hamstring (it’s been angry since April and I have chosen to ignore it) and I seem to have picked up a bug, likely from two nights in a row of less than six hours of sleep and being around sick people.

In light of that I thought it would be an ideal time to have a guest blogger, the guest being Kobi.  Now because we humans love to anthropomorphize (that was a mouthful and took a few tries with spell check) everything that isn’t human, I am going to write how I think Kobi experiences the world on a walk or a run, but in English. 

Here’s how it begins….

Where’s the human?  Oh wait a minute, there she is.  Is she wearing shorts or those tight short pants?  Nope, we’re not going for a long fast adventure then, hmmm, what is she doing?  She’s going downstairs, I must follow as fast as possible as she might be trying to leave without me.  She’s putting the big black collar on me, OMG, I am so excited, that means we’re going on an adventure!  (Translation – e collar). 

I want outside now, now, now, let me out first, I must get outside first.  Let me out, let me out, let me out now!!

We’re outside…I must run as fast as possible down the driveway.  I must get there first.  I must smell everything.  Here’s a smell, oh and another, and another smell, oh wait another smell, I must follow this smell. 

I think I’m hearing a word I hear often.  I better run back, oh, there she is, sheesh she is so slow.  Oh, I smell a squirrel, oh, I see the squirrel.  I must climb this tree.  I hear that same word again – sounds like K-O-B-I.  I hear that a lot.  I better go back. 

Now she’s making me sit beside this smooth flat stretch (translation – road).  Why do I have to sit?  I prefer to run.  I’m still sitting, hurry up, I’ve been sitting for hours (translation – 2 seconds).  I heard OK, I must run fast.  Oh, I smell a bear, I smell dogs, I smell a million smells and I must smell them all. 

Wait, now I hear something.  I must chase this sound, I hate this sound.  Why is my neck buzzing?  Huh?  Oh, I hear that word again (translation – Kobi wanting to race a truck but distracted by the e collar and her name).  I love to run, run, run, and smell everything. 

Gotta poop, gotta poop, gotta poop.  This spot isn’t good, this isn’t good either.  Maybe if I spin around a bit, nope, maybe I’ll turn this way, nope, not good either.  I’ll move over here and spin around a few times.  Ah yes, this is good.  I POOPED! 

Now I must run again, run and smell and smell.  Yikes, what is that?  Maybe if I look really big and bark it will retreat (translation – hackles are up).  Where is the human?  I need her to take control of this situation.  I’m freaking out here!  Finally, she has taken control and is standing on the alien.  I can proceed now and investigate and kill the alien, kill the alien (translation – large pink plastic wrapper from house insulation on the trail at first scared Kobi, but then she grabbed it, shook it and ran with it until it was dead). 

We’ve turned around now.  What smell did I miss?  Did I miss this smell?  There is the alien again, whatever, boring.  Oh, I think I smell a mouse.  I smell something here…bear poo, I must pee on it. 

Must run after that loud noise (translation – another vehicle goes by).  Why is my neck buzzing?  I hear that word again (translation – Kobi, come here).  I better run back to her.  Why do I have to sit and wait again.  I hate waiting, it takes forever!!!  Yawn.  Translation – waiting to cross the road again.  I heard OK, now I can run again, yaaaay.  Oh, I see one of those black things in the air, I hate those things. I must chase it and catch it (translation – raven). 

I don’t want to go inside, I want you to throw sticks and chase me.  PLEASE!   PRETTY PLEASE!  Translation – cute brown eyes staring up at me.  Ah ha!  Works every time!  She’s throwing the stick now.  I got it first and no one can ever have this stick back from me.  Just try to catch me!!  I must run fast, as fast as I can around and around the yard.  The human runs so slow she’ll never catch me. 

Okay, I’m ready to go inside now.  Where’s my dinner? 

If we were on a run instead of a walk, imagine the above, but 10x longer.  Dogs are just so much fun. 


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Best Friends and Rainbows

dog jumping

Kobi the white blurr and the tail end of Dino, her BFF

Everyone needs a friend who loves doing the things we love to do.  This friend should ideally be of equal ability to us or perhaps just a little bit stronger.  Not so much stronger that we nearly kill ourselves trying to keep up to them (or drive them nuts waiting for us all the time).  This friend should also be a bit braver than us or maybe just approach things a bit differently.  Or we just need to be gullible enough to say yes to their ideas.  Regardless, I am blessed to have such a friend.  Her dog Dino is also Kobi’s BFF so it is perfect.

Last weekend, this friend suggested that we go on a hike into the mountains.  The purpose of this hike was to swim in the lake that is the feature point at the end of the hike.  Who would think to pack a wetsuit through the mountains in order to swim across a lake?  Certainly not me, so I immediately said yes!

The hike was beautiful and literally covered in blueberries (no bears or grizzlies thank goodness).  We got to the lake and there were 3 mountain bikers there who probably thought we were absolutely nuts as we were getting into our wetsuits.  If you haven’t seen someone trying to get into a wetsuit before, it is quite funny as it takes a while.  Fortunately, they left before we entered the water, recall it takes a while to get into a wetsuit.

Up until this point, I hadn’t really considered where the water for this lake came from – first clue, mountains, second clue, oh I don’t know, glaciers maybe?   It was the coldest water I’ve ever been in.  Imagine an ice cream headache  x10.  We didn’t actually make it across the lake as it was so cold on our hands and faces it felt like we were going to freeze solid and break into a million pieces like roses dipped into liquid nitrogen and then dropped on the floor.

Kobi swam out with us to make sure we were okay, but she became so cold she tried climbing on top of us.  The older wiser Dino just barked at us from the shore.  Her barks were translated to this:  “You idiots, get out of the water!  Do you know how cold it is?  How am I supposed to rescue three of you from that lake when I hate swimming!  Did you think this through?  Get out of the water NOW!”.

We took her advice and got out alive (we didn’t make it across the lake but were okay with that) and proceeded to laugh our heads off.  That is likely a survival mechanism for warming up after swimming in ridiculously cold water.  Kobi literally ran in circles chasing her tail, winding up one way and then unwinding the other way.  Then she ran as fast as she could while making these little grunting sounds (don’t worry, she was okay).

The hike out was uneventful except for the handfuls of blueberries and then the typical unpredictable mountain weather that always has to happen – extreme winds and then rain.  The storm was short-lived and by the time we were almost back to the vehicle you would’ve never known it had even occurred it got so nice again and of course, there was a rainbow.

All in all I built a little bit more character and can now say that I swam in that lake (that I don’t even know the name of) all thanks to my adventurous friend.

Rainbows and mountains

The Rainbow at the end of the hike