The running dogs of cani-cross
Sophie Pierce writes about a new pet-assisted sport that is setting tails wagging. Here's what she has to say...
It's a beautiful winter's morning on a country estate in Wiltshire and about a hundred tails are wagging frantically. Their owners and accompanying humans are gathering in an atmosphere of fevered anticipation. The dogs, from the smallest Jack Russell to the largest Pyrenean mountain dog, are whining with excitement and the noise rises to a fever pitch as the countdown commences.Read more!
They are about to compete in a cani-cross race. Cani-cross - cross country running with dogs - is relatively new in Britain, but is gaining popularity with dog owners keen to keep fit and have fun. The sport has a competition season which runs through the winter months - summer weather can be too hot for the dogs - and races usually take place in forests or country parks.
The distinctive thing about cani-cross is that each runner is attached to his or her dog (it would be chaos if the dogs were all loose). Some use a conventional collar and lead but most fit their dog with a harness which helps the animal to pull from the chest, rather than the neck. The harness is fitted with a bungee cord, which is attached to the runner's waist, giving a hands-free, shock-absorbed run.
Cani-cross has its origins in skijoring, an alpine sport in which competitors ski with a dog pulling in front of them. Participants say the feeling of running with your dog ahead of you is very satisfying.
And for more info on cani-cross, check out these links:
Canicross by Mike Callahan
The Bikejoring Blog
PointsUnknown - Canicross Hiking Club
And here's a vid of a competitive Canicross event!