Peace 4 Paws 5K Run/Walk and 1 Mile Fun Run

Make sure your upcoming plans include the 3rd annual Peace 4 Paws 5K Run, Walk and 1 Mile Fun Run to benefit Better Days Animal League.  The 5K run is part of the Cumberland Valley Race Series.

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Race date is 9/21/13 and all events are pet-friendly.  Adoptable dogs will also be participating.  Last year’s overall female runner and overall female/dog runner was a Miles and Mutts runner and adoptable (and still adoptable) dog, Athena!

Events for the whole family between the run, walk and 1 mile fun run.

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Let’s make this our best year yet and help the animals at Better Days Animal League.  Consider fund-raising for the event by asking for sponsors to help the animals even more.

Register online at Cumberland Valley Race Series or mail-in the attached entry form.

Date:  09/21/2013

5K Run:  8:45 AM

5K Walk:  9:30 AM

Registration begins at 7:30 AM at Shippensburg Township Park, 304 Britton Road

Facebook Event Page:  https://www.facebook.com/events/150022058514827/

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One Year.

April 14th, 2012 – one runner, one dog and a crushed limestone trail that stretches for 9 miles.

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36 adoptable mutts, 1096 miles and 32 runners later, Miles and Mutts is one year old.

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Our April 14, 2013 group won’t fit in a single picture.  It’s been a year, can’t wait to see what the next year brings for Miles and Mutts.

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A sincere thank you to everyone who has helped coordinate dogs, transport dogs, run with dogs and help this idea get off the ground.  It would still be one runner and one dog if it weren’t for you!

Social Rewards

Recently, I read a blog post about another shelter dog running group and the socialization benefits the dogs receive.

Miles and Mutts is almost one year old and I believe everyone who has run with a dog can agree the dogs benefit from their outings in terms of socialization with people, around other dogs and encounters with real world sights and sounds.

Last year, when the hounds first started to run with the group, every new encounter at the running trail would be cause for alarm.  Bikes were terrifying objects, other runners appeared as threats and every sound in the woods would cause a bolt in the opposite direction.  By the second time out for a run, all of these sights and sounds that are part of the real world were no longer cause for concern.

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Zeus is a running pro with perfect behavior on leash, around others and around dogs.  The shelter was shocked when we reported this back on one of his very first trips out for a run last year.

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Cinnamon can be protective of her kennel in a shelter environment but shows her soft side when out for a run with the group.

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And, Mama.  Sweet Mama.  She’s one of those dogs that will pull at your heartstrings once you take the time to get to know her.  Overlooked time and time again, this girl deserves a chance.  She is the one of the dogs with the biggest transformation from her first outing away from the shelter to her now routine weekly outing.  While she used to stop dead in her tracks at virtually anything out of the ordinary, she is becoming more and more comfortable out and about.

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Although, she will tell you she doesn’t like the cold and would like to promptly return to the heated vehicle with a nice soft blanket to curl up in after her round of exercise.  Can’t blame her there!  We are all more than ready for spring temperatures to be here!

We can all agree, getting the dogs out for a run benefits mind and body for humans and canines alike.

Ain’t Nothing but a Hound Dog

Wordsmith Tim is back this week for his take on a run with Athena.  Take it away Tim…

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Last Sunday, or St. Patrick’s Day as it was known to most, I participated in my second endeavor with the Miles and Mutts pack. The group’s straightforward motto is Rescue. Run. Repeat. And so we do.  Our fearless leader, Abbi with an ‘I’ collects the canines from the Better Days Animal shelter. Volunteers meet at the picturesque Shippensburg Bike Trail. The well groomed gravel trail is gentle on the puppies’ padded paws and is equipped with mileage markers for the OCD humans to keep an accurate tally in their log books.  In addition to us dog fanciers; you never know who or what you’ll bump into on the path. You could be passed in a cloud of dust by Olympian and Shippensburg track Coach Steve Spence or see an Amish family in their horse-drawn buggy on the way to the Sunday service – sorry no Amish websites to reference.  Personally, I relish the solitude, the country air, and the oft chance to see an agile red-tailed hawk swoop down and pluck an unsuspecting vole from a recently tilled field.

Enough Ansel Adams analogies; let me tell you about my running partner Athena. Athena is an anomaly among her caged comrades.  She’s a purebred – not a mutt, not the result of an unlocked gate in your neighbor’s fence.  Athena is a Treeing Walker Coonhound. Why would a dog that normally sells for between $250 – $400 end up in the pound?  It is perhaps the most fundamental concept of a market economy – supply and demand.  The breeder had the supply but not the demand.

Athena’s future along with her sister Xena’s was bleak.  Their fate was to be a deep bucket baptism or drowning. The pair was spared and they have been long time guests at the aforementioned Better Days Shelter. The thought of such an atrocity which is unfortunately not uncommon in the dog world emit flashbacks of the Michael Vick tragedy.

Abbi handed me Athena and the fun run had begun.  The sinewy coon dog sped off with me in tow. You didn’t need to fully comprehend Isaac Newton’s second law of motion to realize my gravitational mass was not going to be easily moved by the twenty pound hound.  Athena had a unique running style, an effortless lopping gait.  While her muscular legs propelled her forward, she rhythmically lowered her head like a diving dolphin darting through the depths.  Her form mimicked the undulating dipping flight of a woodpecker.  The breed routinely tracks animals for miles before as the name implies – it trees them until a hunter or more optimistically, a photographer snaps a photo of the bewildered bear.  The distinctive running technique, honed over years of evolution must be aerodynamic and/or physiologically efficient.

I vowed to take the beast six miles that day, Athena accepted my pledge. As I called her name, gasping encouragement during the trek, she glared back at me perplexed as to why I only used two of my four limbs.  She surmised that that was why I was so slow.

The second time I called her name, a song instantly popped into my head.   It was the Who tune, aptly titled Athena. Athena was Pete Townsend’s ode of unrequited love to actress Theresa Russell.  Not a Who fan, I injected a bit of pace into the run and successfully shook the ballad out.

I thought this animal was more suited to Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog – I lip-synched that ditty sans the gyrating hips.  We passed the two mile mark, I saw my hawk and all was right with the run.

Again, I yelled needless encouragement to Athena. This time I thought why would someone name an abandoned puppy after the Greek goddess of Wisdom?  Jude, the patron saint of lost causes and desperate cases would have been more appropriate. Plus, I like that song, Hey Jude!  I called out to Athena, “Hey Jude.” She ignored me. There will be no formal name change today.  Of course, I sang that song all the way to the turnaround at three miles.

The way back was much faster. After more than a half hour together, we adjusted to each other’s stride and we reached an aerobic synchronicity. I couldn’t remember the lyrics to the Police song, Synchronicity so I sang the more apropos Every Breath You Take from the same album.  Why do I even bring my iPod nano when I am my own jukebox?

The penultimate mile passed by and after a brief respite walk up the final incline, the finish line was literally in sight after the next bend.

We finished with little fanfare. I remembered to push stop on my chronograph which made me wonder if my calf was sore. Why? The brand of my running watch is Soleus. Huh? The soleus is one of the muscles in the calf. That’s just the way I think.

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When the run is complete, your partner gets some much needed hydration and most times a treat.  If you don’t have to rush somewhere, this is also the moment where you get to spend some quality time petting the puppy. Waxing anthropomorphic, I believe the mutts appreciate the attention almost as much as we do.

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Last week, a local runner saw a bunch of dogs and runners out on the local trail.  The group even joked that he was probably wondering why there were so many dogs hanging out in the parking lot when the park has a ‘Dog Free Zone’ sign at the entrance.  Turns out, it was the opposite, he was a dog lover and joined us this week for a run.  I asked if I could share an e-mail Tim sent to a few others about his adventure running with Fabian.  His words sum up a first-time experience perfectly but happy to hear he’ll be back for another go-around in the future!

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From Tim:

Here I am with my Sunday running partner Fabian. Fabian is a shelter dog from the Better Days Animal Shelter in Shippensburg, Pennsylvania. I met him through a group called Miles & Mutts – milesandmutts.com where simply said you run a few miles with a few mutts.

Fabian is a true mutt looking like a spaniel, a bull terrier and at least three other breeds.

Fabian never received the memo that stated I was to walk him and run him for four miles along the picturesque Shippensburg Bike Trail. Instead, Fabian dragged me like a tin can behind a Just Married car. We broke stride only to greet a shrubbery or fertilize the local farm land. After three miles of insane and Usain-like sprinting, we finally settled in to a comfortable trot for the final mile. It was rewarding to run free with this otherwise caged canine.

At the turnaround point, Fabian jumped up on me as if to say, “Thanks for keeping up and freeing me from the monotony of puppy prison.” His bridled enthusiasm was matched by his dogged determination to catch whatever was in front of us. There were jogger Janes and Jogger Joes to overtake and other dogs hauling their human companion over the crushed gravel. Near the end, Fabian glanced sheepishly at cow no doubt dreaming of behemoth bovine burgers. A firm tug on his muscular neck brought him back to reality as we finished the trek in the sub-freezing temperature. As we took the turn from the finishing line, we met his kennel comrades bounding back and forth on the wet grass.

I’m looking forward sharing my thoughts with Fabian or one his eager friends next Sunday. As Dave Barry said, “You can say any foolish thing to a dog, and the dog will give you a look that says, ‘Wow, you’re right! I never would’ve thought of that.’

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“Saving just one dog won’t change the world…but surely it will change the world…for that one dog.”

A few years ago, I went skydiving.  It was something to cross off the bucket list.  I don’t remember much about the skydiving itself but I walked away with a lasting memory.  I was amazed and shocked by this sub-culture of people completely and totally immersed in their sport.  Individuals who were dedicated and passionate about skydiving.  It was something I never even thought about but my eyes were opened to it.

This weekend, while driving Tucker on a leg of a rescue transport from a boarding facility in North Carolina to a new foster home in Pittsburgh, a similar thought occurred to me.  While the world of animal shelters, rescues, transports and passionate animal lovers trying to save one animal at a time are common knowledge to me, there are still many people out there who do not know of all the endless time, energy and passion individuals, groups and networks put forth on a daily basis to help one animal at a time.

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Two weeks ago, a women involved with a rescue who knows my husband through his work forwarded an e-mail to him regarding a transport of two dogs from Echo Dogs Rescue.  It just happened that we live close to the one remaining leg that needed filled to get two dogs on their way to new homes, one to Pennsylvania, one to Connecticut.  We’ve never heard of this rescue and are not on their list but through networking, my husband and I were quickly both on board for spending a couple of hours in a car to help a dog.  Due to winter storm Nemo, the transport was delayed one week.  Saturday came and we took Tucker, a love-able, docile big boy, on the sixth leg of his transport to meet his new foster family.

IMG_0080Transport is something we have helped with before so this was not a new concept but seeing the amount of time and organization that went into this particular transport is something pretty remarkable.  The logistics and number of people involved to give these two dogs a second chance makes you realize that the world is still full of kind, loving and compassionate people.

It is also proof that one person can make a difference.  Transports take a lot of effort to coordinate but giving up a few hours of your time to drive a leg takes very little effort.

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A few hours of driving and car of full kittens from a high kill shelter becomes of wall full of twenty adoptable kittens with a second chance.

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Sometimes transport can be for a ‘special one’ one too.  A few years ago, Garrett, a rambunctious chocolate lab mix, was running out of time at a shelter.  A dog others overlooked, my sister had a connection with him and felt he was one who needed some extra effort to try and help.  All the usual resources seemed exhausted.  She sent an e-mail to me.  I sent a few e-mails.  A little bit of networking, a few more e-mails and phone calls and she was able to find a rescue who was able to take him.  I went along for part of the ride to the rescue.  Garrett found a loving home just a few days later.

garrettAdopt a pet, foster an animal, help transport.  Walk a dog, run with a dog, clean a kennel.  Donate time, money or supplies.  Send an e-mail, make a phone call.  Make an effort, however small or large.  It makes a difference.

Create a ripple.

Year Round Running

Over the summer, the runners weren’t sure we’d be able to run with the dogs over winter.  Would snow be an issue?  Would it be too cold?  Maybe we’d break for a few months and pick it up in the spring?

Well, we just haven’t stopped going and it seems to be working! The dogs can’t spend as much time outdoors at the shelter in the winter since it is so cold.  But, they can go for a run since we keep them moving and aren’t out for too long.  Going for a run continues to be a great motivation for the people too.  A dog relying us is a great way to get off the couch and outside!

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So, looks like Miles and Mutts will be a year-round thing with only occasional cancellations due to weather.

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If we’re not running, we’re probably spreading the word.  This weekend, Miles and Mutts also had a table at the Chambersburg Road Runners Club Runners Seminar with Bart Yasso.  Events continue to be a great way to let people know what we are doing and spread the word about adopting a shelter dog.

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Want to join?