Mutual benefits from exercise with a dog
Photos and story by Micah Bader
Benefits from walking go hand-in-paw for Larry Larson and his labrador retriever, Magnum.
“It’s kind of a mutual thing,” Larson said. “She stays in shape so she’s not overweight when she goes out for the first day of pheasant hunting, and it keeps me in shape too.”
On a daily basis, Larson and Magnum walk about five miles on the trail that follows Fountain Lake’s north shore. Along with walking, Magnum burns off calories by swimming in the nearby lake.
“She’s got a lot of energy even though she’s 8 (years old),” Larson said with a laugh. “Most of the time, she’s walking me. I’m not walking her. It’s a good workout.”
Exercise and diet are the most important factors for keeping a healthy pet, according to Megan LeBrun, a veterinary technician at Clarks Grove-Waseca Vet Clinic with 17 years of experience.
The amount of exercise necessary depends on the age and size of the dog, she said.
Along with keeping Larson company on the trail, Magnum assists Larson during hunting season. Larson said he enjoys hunting upland game like pheasants, ducks and geese with Magnum.
Another positive aspect of hitting the trail with his labrador is spontaneity, Larson said.
“You see something different every day,” he said. “Even if you walk the same route, you see different people and different birds. The fun part is to see the people and be outside in nature.”
Walks with Magnum aren’t limited to the summer months under blue skies.
“We go in the wintertime, too, but obviously not when it’s 30 below zero outside,” he said.
Magnum eagerly anticipates the chance to get outdoors, and Larson said some days Magnum gets separate walks from him and his wife, Ginny Larson.
In addition to caring for Magnum, Larson is a substitute teacher for District 241 in Albert Lea, and his roots run deep with the city.
After graduating from Albert Lea High School in 1973 and earning a bachelor’s degree in environmental science from Bemidji State University, Larson served in law enforcement for 35 years. For seven years before Larson retired, he worked at the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office.
Larson said a dog can help people move toward a healthier lifestyle.
“If somebody is serious about walking and exercise, a dog is a great reason to get out,” he said. “That’s the reason that I get out. If I didn’t have a dog, I probably wouldn’t walk every day.”