Campus canines at Dalhousie University’s agriculture school can now go for a good, long W-A-L-K without having to worry about frosty whiskers or salty paws.
The university introduced a pair of treadmills to the Truro, N.S., campus’s athletic centre at the beginning of the month, designating one for dogs and the other for their human companions.
Judy Smith, the director of athletic services, said she came up with the idea after chatting with a student who was out walking her dog in frigid weather.
“The dog seemed a little bit cold, basically, and I said, ‘So if there was something inside, do you think that would be used?’ And she said, ‘Yeah, absolutely.'”
Smith said the idea is a natural fit for the campus.
“Animals are in our DNA here on the campus,” she said. “Animals are what we do.”
Sam Dykeman and his dog, Mag, were among the first users of the treadmills.
Dykeman, a third-year agriculture business student, said six-year-old Mag was a little timid at first and just watched him. But after a while, she hopped right up behind him.
Six legs made the treadmill “a little squished,” so Dykeman hopped over to the other one and Mag carried on with her workout.
Dykeman said being able to use the treadmill means they don’t have to brave icy paths or salty sidewalks, and it allows him to spend more time with Mag, instead of leaving her at home while he heads to the gym.
Since Mag’s a “pretty hyper” dog, Dykeman said the treadmill lets her burn off energy.
“It’s an awesome way to just let her sleep at night without her bugging me,” he said.
Smith said it’s up to the dogs’ owners to determine the pace and identify when the dog is ready to get off the treadmill. A water dish nearby offers parched pooches a bit of refreshment when they need it.
The treadmills, which are older models that were already owned by the university, are located away from the other cardio equipment at the athletic centre so the dogs don’t disturb other visitors.
While there are no plans to add more, Smith said if there is a groundswell of demand, she’ll look at expanding the program.
But she’s not considering offering the service to the campus’s sheep or cows.
“I’m not ready to take that step,” she said.