Boning Up on Doggy Fitness


All Wishbone had to do was woof (translation: "Interview me"), and I put my grubby little paws to work. The PBS pooch of the "Wishbone" TV series is America's sweetheart, after all. Actually, the star of the show is Soccer, a 9-year-old Jack Russell terrier. He lives and works in Dallas. So, questions were faxed over and Soccer's answers were penned by two wags: Rick Duffield, the show's creator, and Larry Brantley, the actor who is Wishbone's voice.

One detail before we get going on canine fitness: Wishbone's first feature-length video, "Wishbone's Dog Days of the West" ($14.95), is out Tuesday.

Question: Please describe your exercise routine.

Answer: It begins in the morning. I get up at 5:30 a.m., without fail, which is difficult, since my trainer, Jackie Kaptan, doesn't wake up until 7. First, I warm up by jumping against the back door and barking until Jackie lets me out. We do our morning exercises outside. Next, I pull Jackie around the yard a few times--progressive resistance--followed by sprints, usually after cats or squirrels. Cool-down for me is a leisurely roll in the grass. For Jackie, it's a quick run back to bed.


Q: Is there an exercise you refuse to do?

A: I don't do squats. It's that word. Very unappealing.


Q: Do you ever exercise on the set?

A: The set is for work and naps. Ask anybody who has ever worked on a film set. Like exercise, napping requires a regular routine. I do three sets of naps a day, 15 to 20 minutes each.


Q: What do you do about stress?

A: Chewing works great to relieve stress. A rawhide, a good bone, maybe a table leg. In a pinch, go for the director's leather shoe, but be quick about it.


Q: Any hints about maintaining your coat?

A: If you want a healthy coat with a high gloss, I suggest finding any good-sized pile of really smelly stuff and rolling around in it.


Q: Do you do anything special to take care of your teeth?

A: Just the usual good hygiene. At least once a year I destroy one of Jackie's hand-knitted sweaters. It makes for good floss.


Q: Do you like to take walks? If so, are you partial to a particular landscape when you take your daily constitutional?

A: I love to take walks. They are great for the circulation and they give you the opportunity to stop and smell the flowers and the bushes and the trees and fences, fire hydrants, low walls, stuff on the mail carrier's shoes. . .


Q: Describe your diet, please.

A: I've been reading a lot about these so-called "doggy diets," but did you know that not one of those diets was invented by a dog? For a dog, the whole food issue is simple. It's a matter of survival. Eat! Eat now! And eat as much as possible because you don't know when you'll get to eat again. So, I eat, but I don't eat Brussels sprouts.


Q: Do you ever have to watch your calorie intake, especially to fit into some of the costumes you wear on the show?

A: There are no limits to my appetite. As for fitting into my costumes, let me just say one word--Velcro.


Q: Do you make special arrangements at restaurants, or do you order off the menu?

A: The only place I have carte blanche is at Pepper Pete's Pizza Parlor in my TV home of Oakdale. Sam and Walter [characters on the series] are great about saving leftovers for me. Elsewhere, the only special arrangement I can make at a restaurant is to cause a diversion out front, sneak into the kitchen while no one is looking and grab whatever I can.


Q: On etiquette--when, if ever, is it proper to place paws or elbows on the dining table?

A: It seems to me that manners only make sense to those of you caught up in the human race. Those of us who still live in the animal kingdom don't follow Martha Stewart. Our rule is simple: Eat it before it leaves.


Guest Workout runs Mondays in Health.

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