It goes without saying that dogs are man’s best friends. Naturally, as best friends, they do a lot of things together, which may include a range of activities like jogging in the morning, playing fetch, or even going to the gym.

For Chris Hernandez, a CrossFit athlete, trainer, and coach at Primal Ape CrossFit, there’s no better workout partner than his best bud and fur-baby, T-Pain.Named after the popular American rapper, T-Pain happens to be a three-year-old pocket bully. While he does not get the same stage spotlight as his namesake, he definitely gets it at the gym where he regularly goes with Hernandez. His workout routine involves running and playing fetch.

“After ng training ko, minsan sinasabay ko siya sa takbo. Pero after ng class ko, minsan pinapa-play fetch kasi kailangan pa rin siyang makatakbo,” Hernandez tells Animal Scene in an interview.

“Depende din kung [ilang oras kami tatakbo]. Siguro maka-limang 30 meters kami, dadapa na siya at iinom ng tubig.”

Exercise with the bully

Pocket bullies are an amended version of the American Bully Standard, which means they share the same traits and characteristics. One such similarity is that they are known to be very active dogs. If you are thinking about sharing your home with one, you must be able to put in the time and effort to train and exercise them on a regular basis. All dogs need exercise, and for a high energy dog like the pocket bully, it is important to provide them with a regular workout routine in order to be healthy.

“[Our relationship strengthens] kasi parang nare-release naming pareho yung energy namin to good use,” Hernandez says.Exercising them will help strengthen their immune system and prevent health issues, such as joint and heart problems. It will also help stimulate their mental capabilities.

One thing to consider when training pocket bullies is their brachycephalic condition. This means that they have a short nose and flat face, which could cause difficulties. However, it should not be a hindrance in training them, as long they are supervised closely.

“[Snub-nosed] dog siya, mabilis siyang hingalin, pero kailangan pa rin talagang makipaglaro eh,” Hernandez says. “Hindi siya pwedeng nakakulong lang buong araw. Hindi ‘yan kakain kapag hindi siya nakapag-workout.”

Exercise tips for brachycephalic dogs

1. Watch the weather – Since this breed cannot handle extreme weather, letting them outside for a short walk or a five-minute playtime will suffice.
2. Short walks are ideal – If you see any signs of discomfort or exhaustion, take a break. Make sure not to push them too hard.
3. Schedule doggy play dates – Meet up with a friend or neighbor and let your dogs play together for 20 to 30 minutes, with frequent breaks.
4. Provide puzzle toys – Try using puzzle toys indoors in case you can’t head outdoors. Mental stimulation is a good alternative to physical exercise.

Get to know T-Pain

Do not be deceived and intimidated by his muscular build: T-Pain is far from scary. In fact, Hernandez exclaims that the dog wouldn’t even bark at a strangers.

“Hindi siya pwedeng maging guard dog. Never mo siyang maririnig na mag-bark kapag may kumakatok sa bahay. Although mag-a-alert siya, hindi siya mag-a-alarm sayo,” Hernandez says. If they had visitors at home, it was automatic for T-Pain to jump into their hands and welcome them with a lick on the face.

T-Pain, though called a “bully,” is a friendly dog who just wants to play with almost everybody – including cats. Hernandez recalls the time when T-Pain playfully charged at a cat in their house. Instead of getting some play time with his feline housemate, all he got was a scratch. “Iniisip lang kasi niya playtime palagi,” Hernandez says.

Just like any father, Hernandez often worries about T-Pain when he’s left alone at home. “Hindi siya pwedeng maiwan mag-isa sa bahay ng matagal. Medyo paranoid lang ako na baka mainitan siya o ano, kasi para rin siyang bata. Kailangan at least merong nagbabantay,” Hernandez says.

Aside from exercising, T-Pain also has a knack for snacks. Hernandez often cooks healthy food for him, but he would let T-Pain indulge in nibbles from time to time. T-Pain is very well taken care of, which is why Hernandez hasn’t had any problems with the dog’s health.

He adds that having a dog like T-Pain is no easy responsibility. Dog lovers who plan to adopt a pocket bully need to be hands-on and should dedicate plenty of time to spend with them. “Hindi [yung] parang bumili ka lang ng aso tapos ikulong mo at pakakainin mo,” Hernandez says. “Kailangan [ang human] magka-time and spend it with them.”

This appeared in Animal Scene’s November 2019 issue

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