Man’s Best Friend Steps Into Running Buddy Role, ‘Ruby Tuesday’ Leads the Way at Local 5Ks
By Space Coast Daily // June 25, 2017
15-pound, furry running fanatic
Dogs need exercise, too; Incorporating them into your training routine can help keep you both healthy – and accountable.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – If you’re a regular on Brevard’s racing circuit, then you know Ruby Tuesday.
The 15-pound, furry running fanatic often leads the way at local 5Ks for owner Shane Streufert, 45, of Viera.
He and wife Brittany, 44, adopted the Boston terrier about three years ago, joining their other “Boston baby,” Laila Jane, 8. The two may look alike, but 4-year-old Ruby’s the one who gets fired up for 5Ks.
“She howls,” Brittany said of Ruby’s reaction to the National Anthem at the start of a race. “Shane tries to keep her away from the start because, really, she’s so excited to run.”
Having a running buddy or group can certainly be the push to commit to a regular routine. Running with your dog can be “another huge motivator,” said Kim Hunger, 36, of Palm Bay. “They need exercise as well.”
They’ll also start expecting it.
Hunger, a clinical pharmacy specialist at Health First Family Pharmacy (who ran competitively at both Palm Bay High and Florida Atlantic University) sometimes brings her Vizsla, a Hungarian bird dog, along for her runs.
“They look at you every morning, and they’re ready to go,” Hunger said of canine fitness companions.
The sport can improve cardiovascular health, boost bone strength, lead to better sleep quality, mental clarity and weight loss, said Beth Mihlebach, 31, a personal trainer with Health First’s Pro-Health & Fitness.
She sometimes brings her pit-boxer mix when she trains.
“She controls me, I don’t control her,” she joked, admitting they’ve found a nice balance now. “You just kind of have to know your dog.”
SMOKED THE COMPETITION
For Ruby, running was something the Streuferts discovered by default. When they adopted her, Ruby was six months old, skittish and high energy. Brittany took her out for a half-mile jaunt and realized that wasn’t enough.
“I want you to run her,” she recalls telling Shane.
It didn’t take him long to see she was a four-legged running prodigy.
Shane trained Ruby for the Bayfront 5 “K9” Run/Walk about four years ago, and they smoked the competition.
More than 20 races later, Ruby’s best 5K time clocks in at 16:47. He and Ruby have also won the K9 race in 2017 and 2016, as well as Health First’s CPR Day 5K in 2016, 2015 and 2014 (among others).
“It’s really funny, just being at the finish,” Brittany said. “Just hearing people’s comments…‘That guy’s got that little dog?’ It goes to show that no matter your shape or size, if you’ve got running in your blood, you’re going to go for it.”
Ruby’s typical training schedule is two to six miles, every other day. She wears her own special race harness and has even been spotted sporting her own “bib.”
Her hard work shows, too.
“When we’ve taken her to the vet, they’ve made comments, just how fit she is,” Brittany said.
Like people, sometimes Ruby’s just not feeling it.
“She’s got her little personality,” Brittany said. “Shane will say to her in the morning, ‘Do you want to run?’ and she’ll normally jump up on her little bench and get her run collar and everything. Some days, she doesn’t want to run.”
But when she does, look out.
“She does not like people in front of her,” Brittany noted.
Ruby has never been outrun by another dog, only another person – once. “She didn’t like it,” Shane said.
SCARY CLOSE CALL
Both Shane and Ruby had a scary close call late last year. A day after Shane took fourth in the 2016 Space Coast Half Marathon, he was hit by a car one morning while biking alongside running Ruby.
While Shane hit the windshield and was tossed to the ground, he’d instinctively released Ruby’s leash. She was unscathed but ran off.
Shane was taken by ambulance to Health First’s Viera Hospital with injuries to his wrist, heel and knee. He was treated and released the same day and said he considers himself very fortunate.
“I ended up not having any broken bones,” Shane said.
Ruby was found hiding in the Streuferts’ garage, about a half-mile from the accident scene. Shane and Ruby were running about five weeks later, but Ruby won’t go anywhere near a bike.
Despite that scary setback, the Streuferts, who belong to Space Coast Runners, remain steadfast about their love of the sport. Shane won the Space Coast Half Marathon three years ago and usually makes it to the top five in local races.
“The thing with running is it takes a long time, and it takes a long time to get there,” Shane said. “For the first six months, I was miserable.”
Personal trainer Mihlebach said it can be tough to adapt to, but the benefits can be lifelong.
“You have to slowly integrate yourself into doing it,” she said. “Be aware you can get injured and there can be hiccups. I think that’s why people don’t stick to it.”
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