Fast Living: The Athletic Dog’s Guide to Better Recovery
Once a week I go to a special class for burgeoning canine athletes like me. I am the only boy in the class, so naturally all the girls are like, “Oooh, look at him,” and they wag their tails and blink their eyes at me. I respond accordingly with things like, “Later, my little liver snaps, I gotta go pump some iron.” There are no weight lifting machines in class, so I do things like jumping up on the table obstacle a few times, holding a down-stay, and leaping off like a panther with superior agility and ease.
But a lot of what we work on in class is about the mind-body connection.
We work off the leash while moving fluidly and accurately through a series of patterns. My human compares it to a dressage test, but for dogs. It requires us to mentally focus, which for me is easy while I’m working, but not so easy when I have to wait my turn.
The instructor always tells the humans at the end of class, “Now your dogs will be tired when they get home.” Yeah…after the first class, I got home, jumped out of the car, butt-slammed Thunderbear, and we both headed out to the big pasture for a quick game of tag.
One of the reasons that training class doesn’t make me tired is that I am not fed before class. Even though I’m the proverbial “chow hound,” blood glucose levels during exercise are better maintained when we canines have fasted before exercise. I don’t mind because I know after class there will be a nice bowl of food waiting for me. After I whip Thunderbear at tag, of course.
According to the scientific data that I have picked up from my human, we canines use protein, carbohydrates and fat for energy. For a dog fasting before exercise means using more carbohydrates and fat, thus saving protein to maintain muscle. Hence my Aussie buffness.
Typical dog fasting periods are 6 to 12 hours prior to exercise or training like agility, fly ball, Frisbee, Rally, long hikes, dock diving, working / herding stock, and hunting. The time it takes to digest protein raises body temperature and, combined with exercise, increases panting. For all my scent dog friends out there, this is important, because according to Cornell University you will be able to scent better on a high-fat and moderate-to-low-protein meal.
And to further help my recovery and maintained buffness, nothing beats a good nap. After all, it is at rest that our bodies can heal and repair. We canines and wolves sleep about the same amount of time: 14 to 17 hours a day. Humans would do well to adapt our napping habits. It would make them less grumpy and stressed out.
About Buckaroo: Buckaroo is young, male Australian Shepherd, who outwits his owner at every turn. His intelligence is so keen he would be the perfect pet for the nerdy scientists on the Big Bang Theory. We jokingly say that if Buckaroo were a human, he would grow up to be either a master-mind criminal, or invent a product to save the world.