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No time to run your dog? No problem!

‘The joy it brings to clients when their dog overcomes its issues and can integrate with a pack of strange dogs is extremely rewarding,’ says Rob MacKay of Sweaty Dog Fitness Company

Let the dogs get fit, make friends and have fun.

Moxy, a beautiful and intelligent German shepherd, once had extreme trauma to her front-right carpal and was fitted with a custom brace.

Rob MacKay, her owner, was told by her vet that Moxy could live a normal life with the brace, but she probably wouldn’t be able to run five kilometers again.

Against the odds, Moxy eventually made her way back to 5K runs with her friends, with her brace on.

“I sent the doctor a video clip and she used it at a conference she was speaking at,” MacKay tells BarrieToday.

Moxy died last fall at the age of 13, but her rehabilitation is one of numerous priceless moments for MacKay, owner of Sweaty Dog Fitness Company in Barrie.

MacKay started part-time doing private dog runs, mostly for overweight dogs. He always knew it would be successful, but the turning point happened years later when he took time off from his job at Costco.

“Life was busy between the two jobs and I knew it was time to choose one or the other,” he says.

Working full-time with his pupils has been a constant source of enthusiasm and inspiration for MacKay.

“The best part about handling dogs is observing their eagerness to run. From the time I pick them up until we hit the trail, they are in an unabashed joy to get moving,” he says.

MacKay set fitness goals that may include cardiovascular improvement, weight maintenance and even socialization.

“Any dog ​​that does not receive physical and mental stimulation can display bad behaviours, such as destruction of the home, barking and aggressiveness, to name a few. Pack running benefits them socially and mentally,” he says.

MacKay has worked with many breeds, including shepherds, goldens, collies, Aussies, doodles, and huskies, as well as mixes, and rescued husky mixes from up north in particular. He says he’s fascinated by how they overcome their fear and distrust of other dogs and people.

“Most dogs are very friendly. They range from very social and playful to quiet and somewhat timid. But I accept that many don’t have great social skills, and I feel they just need a chance,” he says.

MacKay runs with eight to 10 dogs at a time, all attached to his waist by leashes. Despite his background of him as a runner, he admits that it’s tough.

“Although they are all in work mode, I still have dogs pulling from various sides, so I have to focus on keeping my balance,” he says. “I also have to watch my step and be wary of rocks, roots, holes and other objects, so I don’t trip and fall, which happens a few times each year.”

Nevertheless, the hardship is not enough to prevent him from developing a special relationship with many of his dogs. For some, he says, it happens almost instantly, while for others who have more challenging traits, it takes a bit longer.

“Many of my clients have rescue dogs, and some of these dogs come with behavioral issues,” MacKay says. “The joy it brings to clients when their dog overcomes its issues and can integrate with a pack of strange dogs is extremely rewarding.”

MacKay praises the relationship he has built with his customers along the way, to the point of considering them friends and family.

“Dog owners are some of the kindest, friendliest, trusting, and understanding people I know. They know what dog ownership means and the responsibility that goes along with it,” he says.

He also engages with walkers, sitters, groomers, and other professional pet service providers in a Facebook group.

“It is a close-knit community. We are there to help one another succeed. Whether owners or service providers, it all comes down to giving our pets their best lives,” says MacKay.

For more information on Sweaty Dog Fitness Company, check out the Facebook page by clicking here.

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