Tuesday, October 8, 2013

The Active Dog and The Pregnant Runner Mama

*Picture source: flickrhivemind (I think!)- see note at bottom of post
One of the main reasons we sought out the Vizsla breed (besides their incredible good looks, of course) was because they are active dogs. We wanted a dog that would be ready to go, always up for running and hiking with us. But, when I got pregnant, my typical running routine with Captain started to change...

Taking care of my active dog during pregnancy
In my first trimester, it wasn't a huge change, other than scaling back mileage a little bit... and walking on those days when just standing up made me want to vomit. Getting into my second trimester, luckily the nausea was gone, so I wasn't scaring people in my neighborhood with the "I might puke on you if you get too close to me" face, and I mainly felt like myself again. Aside from hills; running up them turned into more of a slow jog/shuffle, since pregnancy turns your breathing into the equivalent of a first-week contestant on the Biggest Loser when going up steep hills. Oh and then there's the potty break issue- not Captain's, but mine. But, overall, Captain and I were able to continue running, at a lower mileage and slower pace, through my second trimester. I was feeling pretty good when I hit 6 months and was still able to go out for 3-6 mile runs.

But into the third trimester, I started to realize that my frame just wasn't made to carry the extra weight running. At about month 7, I scaled back running with Captain even more- just a few 1.5-2 mile runs a week. Total. Yeah, those used to be warm up runs. Eventually, at 29 weeks, my pulled glute was acting up at barely 1 mile, and I just sighed and started walking. I begrudgingly realized it may be time to hang up my running shoes for a while. Better to be able to walk than to run myself into a serious injury. Now, at 32 weeks, I really miss running, and realize even more how much I love it. But, for me at least, there's still yoga and the ever-boring elliptical. For Captain, despite his expertise with the "downward dog" position, neither of those in-gym activities are dog-friendly exercise mechanisms- so it just meant more walking with mommy. And some of the following:
  • Back and forth: when my husband's around, this is the best way for Captain to get some really nice sprinting out of his system. He loves it. 
  • Walking to the park instead of running there. As Captain has gotten older, he's become much less interested in playing with other dogs, and much more interested in chasing squirrels. So about 30-45 minutes walking through the trails of a nearby park, combined with his usual AM and lunchtime neighborhood walks, keeps him fairly satisfied most days.
  • Daddy-duty. While in the past I did most of the running with Captain, since my work situation is more flexible (and because, let's be honest, I'm more of the runner), now my husband *gets* to run more. My husband only does 1-3 short runs a week, but I guess it's better than nothing. Luckily, my husband can often take Captain into work with him, which is incredibly helpful. There's a good dog park by his work, too.
  • Dog-walking services. I actually haven't found one I love yet in our new neighborhood, but especially when baby's around, I imagine we'll need some more help. 
  • Friends or family. Unfortunately, we don't have any family in the immediate area, and I don't even know if they'd be up for Captain even if they were, but we are lucky to have a number of friends who are willing to take care of Captain in a pinch. 
In case you are a runner and interested, here's a little more info on my average running with Captain:
  • Pre-pregnancy:Weekly mileage ~ 20-30 miles (higher during marathon training of course). Combo of days with: two 2-4 mile runs; easy 3-4 mile run; 5-6 mile run; longer 8-12 mile run. 
  • First and second trimesters: Weekly mileage: ~12-20 miles. Combo of days with: two 2 mile runs; easy 3-4 mile run; 4-6 mile run. Slower pace.
  • Third trimester: Weekly mileage 5-10 miles, only up until 29 weeks (*See update note below). Mainly 1-3 mile runs. I stopped clipping the leash around my waist when my belly started to pop.
  • *3rd trimester Update note: after my pulled glute healed- which took around 4-5 weeks- I did do a few short maybe 5 min runs here and there, just for my own enjoyment. I do have some friends who have run throughout their entire pregnancies, which I think is doable if it feels right for you. For me, in the very later part of my pregnancy, it has just gotten to be so much pressure on the lower part of my body it's not very comfortable. And all the bouncing around makes you have to pee more- not so great for running around neighborhoods. Instead, I've been doing yoga 4-5 times per week, lots of walking, and some elliptical.
Other pregnancy & dog stuff:
  • Weird dreams: Pregnant ladies have 'em. A lot of mine recently have centered around something happening to Captain, or taking care of Captain, or him being the focus of the dream in some way. I think it's my subconscious worrying about how my "first baby" will fare when my "other first baby" comes along.  
  • The great protector: Captain has definitely been acting more protective of me when around other dogs. Something to keep in mind if you frequent dog parks- your dog's behavior may change when you are pregnant! I'm guessing with the arrival of the baby there will be a bunch more changes in how he acts, probably starting with jealousy over the fact that he's not the center of attention...but maybe then moving into the role of being the baby's protector.
  • Practical stuff: Even before I got pregnant, my husband is usually the one to put Captain's flea prevention stuff on, but during pregnancy, I especially make sure to avoid the pesticides. We may be considering other options, but for now, we still use Frontline. 
Which baby?
Then there's the other stuff about pregnancy. Emotions, worrying, planning, etc- and these can affect that active pup too, of course. There was the morning when I started crying because my husband wouldn't take Captain for a morning run. Sigh. I really thought I was avoiding the whole "hormonal swing" thing. Guess not. In any case, my husband is the type of guy who literally cannot function until he's had his morning coffee. He is like the walking dead until that point in his day, but a grumpier, puffier-eyed version of your typical zombie. I don't know why I even asked him; he's never been much of a morning runner. I was just thinking it'd be so much easier if my husband would just exercise Captain like I used to- and still wanted to. Between sobs, I said, "I just don't want Captain.... to be neglected.... just because.... we're having.... a baby." (And I may have also said some other stuff about how I wanted my husband to help more, etc, etc....) My husband smiled at his crazy wife, pulled me in for a big hug, and said, "Well, he might get a little neglected. But I'll run him tonight."I guess it's my first lesson in letting go of my schedule... things may (or may not) get done, maybe just not the way I usually do them (the right way, of course ;-)).

It's hard to think about Captain being at the bottom of my priority list. He's been my baby, and I don't ever want him to be unhappy. I don't want him to be forgotten, to get out of shape, to feel like we don't do things he thinks are exciting after the baby comes. But I know being a new mom is going to take just about everything I have, at the very least for those first few months. And I know I'm going to love this baby like crazy. I just hope I can swing back into a routine with Captain, and show him that I still love him, too.

I know at some point I'll be putting my running shoes back on and going out on runs with Captain again (perhaps with one of those massively large strollers as well), since being active is just part of who I am. I'm trying to keep that in mind. I know we're all in for a world of change here, but there's a running stroller and a baby carrier for hikes on our registry, so hopefully not everything about us will change. Ready or not, here we go. Oh- and to my first baby, Captain: just remember, when times are hard in those first months, just be patient- there will be plenty of dropped Cheerios and mac & cheese for you to pick up in the future, there will be a toddler for you to chase to and lick, and there will be a whole other family member who will love you like nothing else. :-)

(**Note regarding post first photo: Nope, that's not me and Captain, but it was just too perfect a picture not to use here. I never like to use unreferenced photos or photos without permission, but I did my best to find the source. I actually found this pic through a Google image search while looking for "Vizsla bumps and allergies" -lol- different kind of bump. Great shot. But if this is your photo and you do not want it shared here, please contact me and I will remove it. And maybe try to replicate it with my bump and Vizsla ;-)).


  1. Love it- thanks for all the great advice! I hope to be following in your footsteps soon =)

    1. Oh Congrats and good luck! Exciting stuff :-)

  2. I love it! You are a great mommy to both ur kiddies already

  3. This was interesting to read because I come to your blog from the opposite experience. We have our first Vizsla puppy now (she's 4.5 months), and our three kids are 9, 6 and 3. In other words, we waited to get a dog until our kids were past the baby stage. People often say that having a puppy is like having a baby, and I can now attest that it's kind of true. They're demanding, and cute, and they rock your world like nothing else. I am sure Captain will adjust easily to a new baby because he is so well loved.

    Get a good running stroller and carry on as much as you can. However, give yourself time to figure out a way to make it all work. It might take an hour longer to get out the door for that run because baby will be hungry, then baby will poop, then you'll need to change your shirt because baby spit up all over you, etc etc. And meanwhile puppy will be getting very impatient. :) But eventually you'll get a routine back and it will take time. Good luck!


  4. What an inspiring post! My spouse and I are expecting our first baby and we have vizsla who turns 1 next week. Zuni has felt like our first child. We do everything with her. Really love your blog and think you make a terrific Mom to both kiddos.

  5. COngrats! I love this blog post. We will be starting a family in the next few years, and people keep "warning" us that we won't be ablet to spoil our First baby when we have children. But what they don`t understand is how much she keeps us fit and active and how much WE need her as much as she needs us. I am a passionate runner, hiker, mountain biker...well all things outdoors and active, and our Viszla is always right there with us. Sometimes we say "Ok, we need to get out today for the dog", but deep down we love it just as much.

    I am worried however about jealousy when we have a baby....as all viszla`s, she loves us and is very attached. She is always fine when adults are around us, but she has growled and barked a few times when I am close and cuddled with my nieces and nephews. And she will jump in between us and another dog if we pay too much attention to them. Any advice?

    Keep us all posted on life with a new baby and Captain! I am sure he will be a great big brother

    1. Thank you!! As for jealousy, I have read advice that in order to prepare your dog for a baby, you should start ignoring them a bit before the baby, so they get used to lack of attention.....um, I haven't really been doing that, and you can imagine that's hard with a Vizsla. Cuddling up with your nieces and nephews more might help your V get used to you being cuddly with others- Captain gets jealous when I cuddle with other dogs (or sometimes even my husband)- but I think the more they're exposed to it the more they get used to it. I have a feeling Captain will be jealous at first, but that pretty quickly he'll recognize this as an important member of his "pack" that he wants to protect. But, I'll update as we go!