The Felix Factor (an update)

On January 5th we hopped into my friend Jeremy’s car and headed off to south Wales. Not an ideal day for a road trip, with high winds and rain, but we had a mission: collect 3Spot.  Back in October I received a message from a breeder – his dog Duchess a Korthals Griffon had nine pups, were we interested? Almost without hesitation I said yes. On December 1st we headed to Wales to choose our pup, settling on a boy with three spots. And on January 5th he joined our family.

Life with Mr Felix 3Spot

10 weeks later and it is safe to say that Mr Felix 3Spot has totally transformed our lives. And it is pretty safe to say that his life has gone through significant changes too!

Meet Mr Felix 3Spot – who thinks he is a lap dog…

Felix has nearly doubled in size since that day in January, moving from 7 and a bit kilos to almost 15. He has pretty much housetrained himself. He has shown us that he is an all weather dog, loving walks even in the cold pouring rain. He enjoys shower time, walking himself into our shower room to stand under the warm water and get a warm soapy massage. He eats everything, including cat poo. Felix is a no-holds-barred lover of life, always ready to stop and get a cuddle from some stranger, desperate to play with every dog that he meets.

Felix has an overshot jaw (an overbite, basically) so in his short life has already had teeth extracted. He has had worms. He has had cough. But despite these minor setbacks he is resilient.  Full of energy.  Each day a new adventure.

Felix is a hard food kind of dog, but enjoys “real food” too – with a particular fondness for salmon, cod, frozen blueberries, and celery. He enjoyed carrots too, but unfortunately his stomach did not! Like his owners, he likes “good food”… Spoiled, maybe. I prefer to say he is a dog with good taste!

And when he’s tired, or wants to go out, or just seeking attention (he hates it when we use our mobile phones in his presence), he humps my leg. It’s kind of his sign – “hey I want something and THIS seems to get your attention.”  Haha – clever chap!

Finding Our Feet

It’s taken a while to find my feet when it comes to life with Felix.  And by finding my feet, I don’t mean while coming downstairs – although missing a step while going downstairs at 2 in the morning to take Felix out in his first week with us sure put a spanner into my training for a good 5 weeks!  Thankfully the worst of the sprain is now over, and I am onto joint mobility work and manual manipulation to get back to feeling my version of normal.

No, when I say “find my feet” I mean that having a dog threw everything – particularly triathlon training – into the air.  Where once it was easy to manage just our own lives, to make the time to get training done, now everything we do considers Felix.  Who will walk him, who will feed him, how much time will he be alone, how much time do we want to spend apart from him?

In the beginning Felix was tiring. Some say I might have pandered to him too much, but I didn’t want him to feel uncomfortable when he was a puppy without much bladder control. So I woke up in the middle of the night to take him outside. That broken sleep led to me throwing early morning training sessions out the window. Then, not wanting to leave him alone for too much time, I opted to spend time with him hanging out and playing in the evenings, rather than heading to the gym to do my training.

Our dining room, home to our turbo trainers during the winter, was taken over by dog. Our bicycles languished, out back, without turbo love this winter. So that left the gym, and the Watt Bikes.  When we had time, when the gym was open, when the bikes were free. 

All of this pointed to a recipe for inconsistency.  And it was. By choice. 

Perhaps it is because Felix is older, now five months old. Or maybe it is because there are signs of spring in the air, and the sun is rising that much earlier.  But finally – FINALLY – things seem to be settling into a pattern. A pattern that works for me, for DH, and for Felix. 

Training is back on my agenda, and I have been enjoying the sessions.  My ankle is cooperating, and I have been focusing on firing up my glutes and hamstrings to get back to better running form.  I have been enjoying the Watt Bike.  And I have realised that I have missed the trainer time, the time I normally spend listening to podcasts…

I have been logging between 4 and 7 sessions a week. The 7 being more like my “in season” training, the 4 more like my “this is all I can manage right now” maintenance training. I’ve managed to keep strength training on my radar, attending bootcamp (and specific one-on-one sessions when I can’t get to bootcamp) and adding in weekly pilates reformer.  If there is one thing I learned in 2013, it is that I cannot sacrifice strength work ever again without dramatically increasing my chances for injury. 

And the rest? I swim, bike, run – when I can, and not to the point of stressing out about things.

The focus of my season – to have fun, to COMPLETE not COMPETE, gels well with the “Felix Factor”. I am not stressing about what training I can’t do, but really enjoying what I can – and now I am making the time to train more.

And oh yeah – Felix himself is a workout. Morning and evening walks. Carrying him down the stairs (he can’t go down yet, as our stairs are wooden and slippery for paws, so carpetted stair runners will be installed soon!). Felix is an added daily workout!

Someone remarked that I am looking in the best shape I have done, which is crazy because my exercise level is lower than normal – much lower. But I think it is the Felix Factor.  Not only has Felix increased my natural activity level, but he has also increased my overall happiness level.

I mean, how could you not smile when you see this face looking at you?

So yeah, life with Felix. It’s getting to be a lot of fun. It’s a new normal – one that includes a little furry creature who shows me every day that challenge can be overcome with resilience, that crap can be tasty, that a love of life is something that should not be the preserve of puppies and children.  The Felix Factor.

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