June 28, 2016

Mostly cloudy

Need to get moving? Find a canine personal trainer

By Judy A. Totts
Religion Editor

My personal trainer is an exceptional motivator. A rather stubby — but powerful — presence, she doesn’t hesitate to rouse me early. It’s all part of the package.

She reminds me a lot of Phil, the tough little satyr in the animated Disney movie “Hercules,” who converted the big guy into a hero of mythic proportions. I can hear her now: “Ya wanna be a hero, or a zero? Get down there and gimme 20.” Neither hero nor zero, thanks, and I’m passing on the pushups, at least for now.

I used to train in tae kwon do and once was able to do pushups on my knuckles. On asphalt. So I’ve been down there on the floor, and although “I am woman,” I know I have many miles to travel before I hit strong again and quite a few miles more to reach invincible. Sorry, Helen. It’s the detours that’ll confound you, that last piece of chocolate cake or the latest book by Alice Hoffman to curl up with.

I’ve never had much endurance when it came to running, but now into my fifth decade, the brisk walking is coming along nicely. Especially with Indi barking — literally — commands and encouraging me to pick up the pace. She has important things to do, cats to chase, rabbit poop to roll in, and I’d better get a move on.

As you may have guessed, my trainer is my dog, Indiana, a Pembroke Welsh Corgi with a sweet personality and a little bit of attitude. Corgis are bred to herd cattle, and when you’re only 12 inches high, you’d better have attitude. Her name is taken from Sean Connery’s line in the third Indiana Jones movie, “The Last Crusade,” when Connery — the senior Mr. Jones — explains to their guide, Sallah, how it came to be that his son, Henry Jones Jr., got his nickname: “We named the dog Indiana.”

“It was a good dog,” Jones the Younger replies a little defensively, almost sheepishly.

Our Indi is a good dog, too, and a better personal trainer you’ll never find.

Like her namesake, she can be cocky, with a little swagger to her walk as we head down the street.

We start each workout with some resistance training, because she thinks noisy cars and motorcycles are good only for chasing, so it builds grip and bicep strength as I hold the leash steady. I am convinced anyone who wants to get in shape should get a puppy.

Just kidding — puppies are a huge commitment — but a puppy, especially a moderate to high-energy breed like corgis, who make their living telling cows where to go, demand a higher level of physical fitness.

That factored into my decision to get a corgi — I would have to move and keep moving.

Our old dog, Skittles, owned us more than 14 years, and I had forgotten about leaping over baby gates that keep pups safely corralled when you’re taking a roast out of the oven, doing the 100-yard dash out the door with a leaking puppy or groaning into deep knee-bends to crouch down and pry open teeth firmly clamped around something while frantically asking, “What have you got in your mouth?”

In early puppyhood, Indi did dance instruction on the side, trying to bite our toes and ankles. It gave hip-hop a whole new meaning.

Despite her dedication to physical fitness, Indi also doesn’t hesitate to remind me to stop and sniff the roses once in a while.
She’s 1 year old, now, and after the first wild burst of enthusiasm out the door, she slows the pace, stops to read her tree-mail and often squats to reply.

I treasure early Sunday mornings. We are on the move by 6:30, and I yawn away the remnants of sleep as we head down the street, listening to the church bells at
St. Francis Xavier chiming the hour.

The sky turns creamy pink and gold as we walk past the graveyard next to St. Paul’s, and we stop for moment as I read the names on the tombstones.

But Indi isn’t one to linger, so we turn west on Liberty Street, trying to catch up with our shadows.

Hurry, hurry, she urges me, and off we go toward home and a cup of tea for me and a bowl of dog food for her. I have time to read the paper — until she parks in front of me and fixes me with her foxy stare.

“Ya wanna be a zero, or a hero? Let’s get moving.”

Totts may be reached at 330-721-4063 or religion@ohio.net.