Saturday’s Run

24 Mar

Last Saturday I got up early, laced up my running shoes, and ran with the dogs. The Washington Humane Society started this volunteer effort called PACK (People and Animals Cardio Klub), and every other Saturday volunteers get together to run or walk with shelter dogs.


It’s a neat concept, and I bet (hope) that there are other humane societies and shelters out there that do something similar. And let me be the first to tell you that if you are a dog lover, it is F-U-N. Because I don’t know if you know this, but dogs, well they are some of the most hilarious creatures on earth. Much funnier than cats.


As I approached the group of humans and canines that bright and shiny Saturday morning, it was as if you could see the one collective thought in the dogs’ heads as they sat, then stood, then sat down again, then sneezed, their ADOPT ME vests secured, gentle lead collars on: “RUNNING! RUN! RUUUUUUUUUUNNNNNN! Poop. Oh look, a twig. Let me gnaw on it. RUUUUUUN! RUUUUNNNINNNNNG!” And a little before 9 a.m., the humans gave the dogs on their leashes a little tug, and the group took off.


It was a good run through a northern section of Rock Creek Park, all told somewhere between 3 and 3.5 miles. I didn’t personally run with a dog, being that there were 6 or 7 dogs to run that day, but twice as many humans. That was okay, though, I was happy to be supportive and show up, watching the dogs in their mad ecstasy of being able to run semi-freely in the outdoors. One of the dogs, a plush bulldog/boxer mix named GiGi, got into a bit of a tumble at the start as she tried to simultaneously run at a good clip and work her mouth out of the gentle lead. But she righted her startled self (I felled over? I felled over! RUNNINNNNG!) and did well the rest of the run with her handlers. Minnie, a very mini rat terrier, stood shaking, looking around with her wide eyes before we got going, and then was off like a shot for the run, ears flattened against her head, running as if her life depended on it.


By the time we made it back to the picnic area the dogs were exhausted, and I can at least speak for this human in saying that I, too, was tuckered out. Chaka, a Rottweiler ran lead in the pack, a good chunk in front of everyone else, was sitting prettily at her handler’s feet before giving up the ruse and flopping onto her side as if to say, “ruuuuunnnnn…ooo…grass to chew…” How I envied her at that exact moment.


The transformation in these shelter dogs after a mere 40 minutes of exercise was astounding. They were excited but calm to begin with, but even calmer afterwards, which was good, seeing as how many of them would be heading to an adoption event later that afternoon. Even Smitty, the puggle who had been barking for attention before we started running—only to be hushed, at which point he just sat there, his forehead wrinkled and his underbite jutting out, giving him the look of a frustrated little man—was quiet, letting out a half-hearted bark that was really more to just make sure people were still paying attention to him than anything else. There were many moments that morning that I wish I had brought my camera, but alas, it’s kind of hard to run with a camera hanging off your neck.


They do these runs every other week, and I hope that someday it will be a weekly event. The bad thing about this Saturday’s run is that I wanted to take every dog home with me but I couldn’t. The good thing about Saturday’s run is that in two weeks it will probably be an entirely new batch of dogs, because the ones from this week will have been adopted out. Apparently Washingtonians truly dig on a running partner to call their own, particularly if it’s in the form of a four-legged friend.


2 Responses to “Saturday’s Run”

  1. Cassie March 25, 2009 at 1:20 PM #

    I don’t know how you can participate in something like that and not get a dog. I know there are many, many reasons why it is not a good idea for you to get a dog at this point, but, oh lord. I have a dog, and could not possible stand having two in my house, but I want another one just reading that. What an awesome idea.

    The lesson people should learn from that run is that dogs who exercise are happy, non-destructive dogs. Dogs who never get walks are excited, spazzy dogs who will chew your shoes and furniture and bark and drive you nuts. Walk your dogs, people! Every day! Even in the rain! A yard is no substitute for a walk. Sorry. Done ranting now.

    I want to go on this run. It sounds so awesome.

  2. Tristan Schmid March 31, 2009 at 12:11 PM #

    This is an awesome idea – thanks for writing about it! After reading this, we’re considering adopting something similar to PACK here in Indianapolis. There are several high-foot-traffic areas, like the Monon Trail and the Canal downtown, where our dogs would hugely benefit from the exercise and also the exposure to more people.

    Kudos to you for volunteering in this unique way!

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