Dogs and Running Teams, A Match Made in Heaven - By Carlos GaminoBy Carlos Gamino

In Santa Maria, California, cross-country coach Luis Escobar is making a huge difference—for his team and local shelter dogs.

The creative coach was hunting for ways to make running more fun for the team, and when he thought about the pooches behind bars at the Santa Barbara County Animal Services Department, he decided to ask the team to bring some four-legged friends along. The added benefit: the students’ curriculum requires volunteer hours, and running with shelter dogs fits the bill.

Twelve students each got a dog for the run, and according to Escobar, everything went exceptionally well.

“I am not sure who was more excited and having the most fun…the dogs or the kids,” said Escobar. “Either way, it was a great time and I am sure we will do it again sometime soon.”

Running with shelter dogs is nothing new—volunteer runners have been doing it for ages. However, this is a new twist… one that hopefully gains traction to get these pups some much-needed exercise and attention.

Some shelters are asking PokémonGO players to walk while they search for Pokémon, too.

Are You Interested in Running With Shelter Dogs in Milwaukee?

Walk Run Wag is an annual 5k run/walk (it usually takes place in July) you can do with or without a dog, and it’s held in Wauwatosa every year. The proceeds go to helping animals in need.

Tails on the Trail (another 5k run and 1-mile walk each year, usually in June) takes place in Milwaukee, as well.

But you can do more than run with a shelter dog (or two) throughout the year.

Call a pet rescue organization and ask how to volunteer your time, whether it’s a quick run through the park or a leisurely stroll around outside the shelter. Just like humans, dogs have different exercise needs.

Where to call:

  • The Wisconsin Humane Society in Milwaukee (414-264-6257)
  • Humane Animal Welfare Society in Waukesha (262-542-8851)

What Do You Think?

Should more coaches and trainers adopt this idea? Have you seen it in action anywhere else? I’d love to hear your thoughts, so share them on my Facebook page or on Twitter!

Carlos Gamino