Better Days Animal League Peace-4-Paws 5K

On September 22, 2012, Better Days Animal League hosted its 2nd Annual Pet Friendly Peace-4-Paws 5K Run/Walk and 1 Mile Kid’s Fun Run to benefit the homeless animals under their care in their two shelters.

 

Several adoptable dogs ran in the race, after getting suited up in ‘Adopt Me’ vests of course.

 

As expected, the dogs were ready to run when the race started but everyone behaved themselves quite well in the pack of people and dogs.

 

 

As expected, the distance hounds were front runners with Athena coming in first, also capturing the first female runner and first female with a dog awards.  She was followed closely by her sister, Xena.

 

Remmy and Trinket ran in the 5K as well and seemed to enjoy the day out on the trail.

 

 

All in all a great day for the animal and the runners and walkers out to support the animals. Word for Miles and Mutts reached a new audience and we anticipate more dogs in the running pack soon when others decide to join us to run with a shelter dog.

Next year’s Peace-4-Paws event should be even better!

Countdown to Peace-4-Paws 5K

On Saturday, September 22nd, Better Days Animal League will be holding their 2nd annual Peace-4-Paws 5K.  This is a unique 5K since it is pet-friendly, both the run and the walk.  There is something for everyone!  All proceeds benefit the animals of Better Days.

Peace-4-Paws is where Miles and Mutts all began.  Last year, I ran the 5K with one of my own dogs, Hannah.  I was more excited for that race than any other of the year.  5Ks are not usually my cup of tea – give me a long and slow race any day over a short 5K.  At the time, Hannah was the newest addition to our family and from the beginning she needed plenty of exercise.  She’s a highly active dog who needs to release energy and I’ve run with her from day one.  The more I ran with her, the more rewarding it became.  She was the first one that seemed to truly need it, not just go along with me.

Pet-friendly events are few and far between.  I’ll support and participate practically any event that supports a worthy animal welfare cause but throw in pet-friendly and I’m guaranteed to be there.

The 5K itself was one of my slowest (turns out Hannah isn’t quite as well behaved when in a group of people and not in the lead) but still one of the most enjoyable.  Having a dog at the end of a leash beside me is the most fulfilling kind of running.  Making a connection with a dog while they are ‘working’ at running cannot be explained, only experienced.  Just like humans, dogs can experience the runner’s high.  That’s what Miles and Mutts is all about.  Release the stress and get the endorphins flowing – both human and canine.

After the Peace-4-Paws 5K last year, I was able to get involved with Better Days Animal League and eventually pitch the idea to get some of the dogs out for a run.  With strong support from another volunteer and 5K organizer, Amy, the program slowly started to take off.

This year, it will fun to participate with more of the dogs from Better Days Animal League.   I’ll run with Hannah again while several others will be running with adoptable shelter dogs.  Some may even win some titles.  In fact, I’m placing my bets on these two:

In the end, I hope more people will see how rewarding running with a shelter dog can be and will consider joining the pack for a run.  Registration is still open for the 5K.  Please consider signing up if you can make it.  For those not local, consider making a donation directly to Better Days Animal League.

The Never-Fail Exercise Buddy

Everyone has those days where you may not feel like exercising.  It’s difficult to push yourself out the door.  We feel 100% times better when we make that push to get moving but some days it can be so difficult.  A great thing about running with a dog…they help with that push out the door.

Two weeks ago, the Sunday morning group run was looking a little gloomy.  The sky was gray, it looked like it could dump rain on us at any time.  When the van full of adoptable shelter dogs ready to run pulled into the parking lot, two different people asked the question, “Did you bring Trinket today?”

Trinket has by far become one of the running group’s favorite 4-legged pals.  She is sweet as can be and we’ve all fallen in love with her and want her to find an amazing home full of love as quickly as possible.

But, here’s the other thing about Trinket.  As a runner, she’s slow.  She’s that slacker workout buddy you hope for on some days.  The one with the easy pace where you don’t feel the least bit bad about taking a walk break.  “Oh, Trinket, you are getting a little tired.  How about we let you walk for a couple of minutes”…you know, just for Trinket’s sake.  Some weeks everyone is raring to go, some weeks, you want a Trinket.

Two weeks ago, Trinket wasn’t one of the six dogs who we brought to run so everyone had to test their dead legs on a Sunday morning, including energy balls Roscoe, Zeus, Jack and Lucky.  Regardless, all dogs rewarded their running mates when they appeared happy, calm and relaxed at the end of a vigorous workout.

This past weekend, I was the one with the dead legs and looking for a slacker workout buddy.  At the shelter, we started leashing up dogs for the week.  After five dogs were loaded, I wasn’t sure who the sixth would be for this week, we had several options.  Then, I got hit with the question.

“Want to try a new one today?”

Never one to say no to that question, a somewhat nervous absolutely gorgeous Husky named Oliver appeared.  After the quick background information, we headed to the park with the group of dogs.

Seven miles later at a brisk pace, I don’t think ‘the new one’ will be falling into the slacker workout buddy category.  But, like most of the others, he got me moving in the morning and I couldn’t have been happier.  I hope Oliver agrees.

Consider joining us, we have plenty of regular exercise buddies.

Moving on Up…

Miles and Mutts is moving on up in more ways than one.  

First, the distance hounds have a new personal distance records.  Xena and Athena each ran 7 miles on the last group run.  They also easily found the treats left for them as well.  

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Second, the dogs have a new ride to allow more dogs and runners to come to the group runs.  The initial ride over was a bit shaky but tired, happy dogs made for a pleasant and quiet ride back.  What a quick transformation with a bit of exercise.

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Third, with room for more dogs, more dogs need tested out and added to the running pack.  We started this week with two strong, energetic boys.  Lucky and Rafiki were both handfuls to start but each found their magic of the mile spot during our test run.  With Lucky, it took about one mile and then he settled in pace right by my side.  Rafiki took a little longer but hit his stride as well.  Both enjoyed some loving post-run which was actually possible since they were calm and relaxed after their run.  

And they call it puppy love

In trying to explain the concept of Miles and Mutts to others, I often use the angle that running with a shelter dog can help an individual just as much as it can help a dog.  While the dogs need the exercise, if someone is not completely committed to a regular, exercise program, sometimes having a buddy to hold them accountable is all that is needed.  Knowing a dog is waiting may be enough for a person to make that choice to show up and commit to running.

We’ve been doing this consistently enough that repeat dogs, like Trinket, are picking up on the routine as well.  They know what is happening when they get picked up Sunday mornings. 

New dogs in the mix, like Roscoe, start out a little unsure for their first car ride and run.

All of the people currently running are pretty seasoned so they don’t really need the extra commitment to get in the exercise, however, a trend is still developing that keeps people showing up each and every time.  Relationships are forming between runners and dogs.

Sometimes circumstances do not allow a person to have a dog…or another dog…at the present time.  They can certainly still run with one and know they just made that dog’s day!

Sometimes circumstances do work out.  A relationship may form.

And, a sweet dog finds a wonderful family…and home…full of runners.

Triple Digits

A little program is starting to grow.

Last weekend, the scheduled Miles and Mutts run broke into the triple digits.

The dogs from Better Days Animal League have collectively run more than 100 miles side by side with some wonderful volunteer friends.  The miles are logged here.

Ally was one of the dogs who enjoyed a few miles:

Not too shabby for a new program and a bunch of mutts.

I wonder how many miles the dogs and volunteers can get to before the Peace-4-Paws 5K on 09/22/2012?

Time Flies…

While working on some Miles and Mutts housekeeping, I realized the last post was 2 weeks ago!  Time flies…when you are having fun…or just really busy.

Last week’s run was unexpectedly cancelled at the last minute due the terrible heat wave.  At first, we thought just a walk would work but after feeling the temperatures at 5 AM, it just didn’t seem wise for our scheduled time a few hours later with the shelter dogs.

The week before, it was pretty hot as well so the run was low-key with some walking as well but Jazzy still seemed to enjoy it.

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Lounging for the car ride.

In fact, I’ve never witnessed a dog who better mastered the popular run/walk method.  After running a couple miles out the trail, we turned around and headed back.  I decided to walk to make sure she did not overheat.  She hadn’t slowed her pace at all but it was pretty humid.  After a walk break, I started to jog again and suddenly she seemed to enjoy this method.  We slowed again to a walk.  Then, she looked back at me, started to run again as if to alert me that our walk interval was up.  I was game for running and we repeated the process.  Walk/Run for dogs, maybe it’ll become a trend.  🙂

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We’ll try again this week and hope the heat stays away.  Want to join us?

Distance Hounds

The first dog that headed off shelter grounds for a Miles and Mutts run was Xena.  I knew Treeing Walker Coonhounds were bred to hunt and could cover some ground, but still did not know what the endurance level would be of a dog that spent most of her life in a kennel environment.  The first time we went for a run and covered five miles and knew we were no where near her limit.

The next week, I headed out with Xena’s sister, Athena.  Once again, it was a success (other than a bit of car sickness!).  We covered five miles and she could have gone further.

As the two sister’s have continued to go on more runs with some amazing volunteers, they continue to steal my heart.  They are both extremely sweet, gentle dogs.  They can probably run forever but once they get out some initial energy, they calm down too and their true personalities shine.

If any runners are looking for running partners who would never stand you up, be late and would always be eager to head out the front door for a few miles, these are your girls!

They are leading the pack in number of miles and it would be great if we could get them out even more often…of course, I’d really like to take them off the pack list and move them to retired from Miles and Mutts once they are adopted into a loving home.

They hit the trail again last week along with new addition to the running pack, Jazzy!

Interested in running, join us!

Leashing the Run

Running with a dog isn’t exactly rocket science but it can be a little frustrating and have a learning curve at first.  The good news is it’s very easy to train a dog to run by your side on leash.  Most pick it up quickly and will be running in perfect pace with you in no time, often improving their behavior on a leash for both walking and running.  Running is a task that forces the dogs to concentrate more than they would on a leisurely stroll.  This makes it easier for a higher energy dog to get into a zone while running over walking.

I’ve run and walked many, many dogs over the years and have tried virtually every kind of harness, collar, head collar, leash and waist belt manufactured.  Most of these products have their place in the market.  However, what I have found works the best for running with the majority of dogs is very simple – a 4 foot lead attached to a Martingale type collar.

4-Foot Leads

My absolute favorite 4-foot leads are those made by Lupine.  I purchased my first one somewhat by accident.  I was bringing home another dog and realized I didn’t have enough   leashes for all of the dogs in my house.  I was at a local store that did not stock a lot of supplies but they had a few Lupine products for sale.  I bought a leash and did not even realize that it was a 4-foot lead instead of the more typical 6-foot lead that you’ll find in most stores.  It quickly became my absolute favorite leash for a variety of reasons.

First, 4-foot is the perfect length for running.  It is short enough that you can keep the dogs by your side and not have too much slack to deal with.

Second, you’ll quickly discover the handle is much better than a standard leash handle.  It is slightly padded, fitting perfectly into your hand.  Additionally, it is connected to the lead with a metal connector.  This allows the handle to stay firmly in your hand while the leash still moves around a bit while you are moving and pumping your arms during running.

Third, the clasp is easy to connect to the collar D-rings.  The clasp is much sturdier and lasts longer than other brands.

Finally, the nylon holds up very well, even after many, many miles and plenty of rounds in the washing machine.  And, as they state, they are guaranteed (even if chewed).  A guarantee like that probably means they are pretty high quality!

Well loved lead on the bottom, brand new lead on the top.

Martingale Style Collars

Martingale style collars go by many names but the idea is simple.  The loop has a ring which attaches to the lead and tightens if the dog pulls or tries to back out of the collar.  They are not restrictive like a choke collar but tighten enough to allow for training the dogs not to pull.

Lupine makes a Combo collar which can be used as a training type collar (D-ring in the front of picture) or a regular collar (D-ring on the right).  For running, I always use the martingale loop.  It should be noted that these types of collars should not be left on dogs unattended due to the tightening feature of the looped section.

The Lupine collars are high quality just like the leads.  The only drawback with this style of collar is it is an over the head type.  This makes it a little more difficult to fit on the animal shelter dogs as opposed to those that also have a buckle.  The shelter dogs are usually quite excited and not overly patient to wait on the human’s ability to re-size the collar a couple of times before getting it right!

This type of collar is the only type that I’ve never had a dog be able to get out of in some way.  With virtually all other types of collars or harnesses, dogs who really want to try to get away from you to chase something usually can but I’ve never had it happen with this type of collar.  This is particularly important when running with the shelter dogs since they sometimes get spooked by something and try to get away.

Starting the Run

To start running with a shelter dog, I slowly move into a jog.  For the first quarter of a mile or so, I let the dogs go in which direction they want which often includes some zig-zagging.  If running with my own dogs, I discourage the zig-zagging and start them directly on my left side.  After the dogs start to figure out what we are doing, I begin to reel them in to my side.  To do so, I grip the lead about halfway down to encourage staying on my left.  Usually, they’ll fall into pace after practicing a few times and you can run with a slack lead.

If the dog gets distracted, usually it is easy to pull up on the leash and collar to redirect the dog straight ahead.

With a little experience on the dog’s part and a little patience on the human’s part, you’ll be running together harmoniously in no time.

Miles and Mutts has been using Lupine leads and Martingale style collars to run with the dogs.  Often, we were scrounging for enough supplies to make due for the day when multiple dogs were involved.

My previous stash that I guarded closely!

After contacting Lupine and talking with their incredible customer support, Miles and Mutts runners now has the appropriate collars and leads in the correct sizes.  Thank you Lupine!

Interested in running, join us!