Recently, Miles and Mutts had an exhibit table at an event held at Wilson College – Eat Sleep Run Grow. It was a great opportunity to talk with new people about the mission of running with shelter dogs from Better Days Animal League.
One of the most enjoyable parts of these events is talking with others about rescue and adoption. Inevitably though, there are two comments that pop up. First, the ‘animals shelters are sad places’ comment which I have a personal mission to dispel.
Second, when you are discussing running with a shelter dog, are those people who feel guilty about not providing enough exercise to their own dogs. There are usually several reasons but patience, frustration and controlling the dog are the usual themes.
So, here’s a secret. I have three rescue dogs and I am not a perfect dog owner. In fact, no one is a perfect dog owner. It’s shocking, I know. While I’d love to claim that I have three angels who listen to every command I calmly say and run and walk in a perfect heel every day, well, that’s just not the case.
Instead I have three dogs with unique personalities that require a daily three ring circus to control. “Knock it off”, “No”, “Down”, “Shh…”, “No Humping” and “Get out of Here” seem to be phrases on repeat in our house. Half the time I’m usually yelling these frantically with no one listening.
The dogs don’t jump on the furniture but the mailman driving by creates a chaotic fury. They’ll sit calmly for their dinner but still sneak in the pantry if you turn your back for 30 seconds. Daily wrestling matches end when they decide they are finished, which isn’t always when I think they should finish. It’s give and take, a lot of patience, a little bit of compromise and continued daily work and routines.
First, the dog-aggressive, truck-hating lab mix and I walk around the neighborhood on eggshells watching closely for any loose dogs so we can promptly go the other way if one is spotted in the distance. Next, the spastic, goofball chocolate mutt, who you can’t even pet because she becomes insanely excited and wiggly with touch, hits the road. A run would be the best to calm her down, but working to keep her in pace with me by my side, even if it only takes a half mile of fumbling, may require more patience than I have at this particular moment. Finally, it’s time to complete a brief mosey and smell session with the world’s most stubborn beagle.
Running with a shelter dog comes with built in patience. I always have more patience with an adoptable shelter dog than I do with one of my own. Getting one of the shelter dogs out is their time and their behavior rarely bothers me one bit. Running with one of my own dogs does not have that built in patience because they should know better. We’ve been through the same routine over and over again.
Having been out of our routine over the past 2 months, the past few times I’ve run with Hannah, one of my dogs, has been rather frustrating. This weekend, we had one of those moments where all the frustration faded away. The first mile was a clumsy adventure as I tried to make Hannah realize we were not randomly sprinting and she was supposed to run in a straight line but eventually she remembered the beauty of the run. She hit the magic of the mile. I looked down at Hannah on my left side in perfect pace with me. She was shallowly panting, eyes calm and happy. We finished our run but the moment was perfect. So, we went another mile together and I remember why she’s my favorite running partner.
Take the time to run with your own dog and share the love with a shelter dog by joining the pack.
Want to complain about your own dog? Miles and Mutts will have a table set up at the Chambersburg Runner’s Seminar, this year featuring Bart Yasso, on February 9th!