In the absence of the Tokyo Olympic Games, we have recruited three current Team GB athletes British 1500 metre record-holder and 2 x European champion Laura Muir , 3 x Paralympian and Rio 2016 silver medallist Lauren Steadman and 2 x European U23 champion Jemma Reekie for #YuMOVEWagletics - a campaign that promotes doggy health and exercise.
In this blog post, we catch-up with Laura Muir, who not content with flying the flag for Team GB is also a fully qualified vet. Laura discusses her love of animals, her first dog Moss and shares some exercise tips.
YuMOVE: Hi Laura, can you tell us about your relationship with animals?
Laura Muir: I’ve always been interested in animals. From a very young age, my earliest memories are dragging my Nan around to go and see the chickens at local farms. My first pet was a rabbit when I was 5 and then I got a dog when I was a little bit older.
I was lucky to grow up in the countryside with friends that lived on farms and had stables, so I would regularly help out with the lambing and the horses. I love spending time with animals and being able to be part of the YuMOVE Wagletics campaign is brilliant because it combines my two passions: animals and sport.
YuMOVE: You mentioned your first dog growing up, why don’t you tell us a little bit about him?
Laura Muir: His name was Moss and he was a Border Collie. I can remember when he came home - I was eight years old at the time - we were smitten and from that moment we used to spend all of our time together.
He was a very smart dog and you could play hide and seek with him and he would always find you. He was so intelligent - he could always tell how you were feeling, such an amazing dog. Moss really instilled my love of dogs and inspired me to study to become a vet.
YuMOVE: When did you realise that you wanted to be a vet?
Laura Muir: From an early age I knew it was what I wanted to and I started planning for it. I knew I had to study hard to get into university but I also started to gain experience by working at kennels, catteries and dairy farms in my teens. It was a long process.
YuMOVE: How did you balance your two main interests, athletics and animals?
Laura Muir: I’ve always found that both compliment each other really well. The studying and the training is very intense but combining them gave me an incredible balance and each provided a welcome distraction when needed. For example, if I had a little niggle or was worried about an injury then I could focus on my studies. If I was stressed out by veterinary exams I found escape in my athletic training.
YuMOVE: Will you move straight into a veterinary career when you retire from the track?
Laura Muir: Well, you never know. Things change so quickly and I’m in a very fortunate position to be offered lots of different projects and experiences, so we take things day-by-day, year-by-year. An opportunity could come along that takes me in a totally different direction.
I would love to keep animals in my life, whether that is with a veterinary role, or doing something similar to the YuMOVE Wagletics campaign - hopefully we can keep working together (laughs).
YuMOVE: What advice would you give to any first-time dog owners?
Laura Muir: It can be quite daunting when you’ve got this new animal in your life and home for the very first time. Don’t be frightened by that and be prepared to invest a lot of time and commitment. I would say try and spend as much time with your dog as you can; playing games, exercises - what we’re doing for YuMOVE Wagletics.
It is also important to have friends and family that can help look after them if you're returning to work. It is a big commitment but it is such a special one and so many people's lives have changed from having a dog.
YuMOVE: Can you share a few tips to keep doggy exercise interesting?
Laura Muir: The secret is variety. There are so many different exercises out there and myself Jemma Reekie and Lauren Steadman are going to share a few of our favourite exercises, games and tips as part of the YuMOVE Wagletics campaign.
I would recommend introducing different exercises, toys, walk routes and locations. You could also meet up with other dogs if your dog gets on with other dogs.
How much exercise your dog needs depends on their breed, age and health. All dogs. just like humans are unique and all respond differently to exercise, so it’s important to find a routine that works for them. If you’re unsure on how much exercise your dog needs, it’s best to speak to your vet for advice.
The secret is trying to keep it interesting. This will keep you stimulated and your dog.
The Wagletics campaign will run across our Facebook and Instagram channels from 7th - 28th August. Lauren Steadman (@laurensteadmann), Laura Muir (@lmuiruns) and Jemma Rekkie (@jemmareekie) will also be posting content to their own Instagram channels. Each week, the nation will have the opportunity to learn a new exercise for their dogs and will be shown how to master it by our GB heroes.
Exercises will be adapted for dogs of all ages. Routines will focus on mobility, strength, coordination and discipline and will include a doggy agility course, ultimate frisbee, hide & seek and obedience challenges. All of these playful and easy-to-do routines can be performed at home with minimal or no props.
Follow YuMOVE on social media and search #YuMOVEWagletics to participate and keep your dog active for life. Amazing prizes, including one-on-one coaching sessions from our athletes, product bundles and doggy toys are up for grabs for all those that take part in the campaign.