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Running Dog Akron

What if your run today was the best part of someone else’s day? Runners involved in the RunningDog program have learned that they can use their hard-won cardio conditioning to make a difference in a homeless dog’s life. And perhaps change their own lives in the process.

RunningDog is a non-profit organization that pairs runners with adoptable dogs through an organized running program. After a short orientation session, runners can take a dog out for a running adventure at their convenience or join the group runs aptly named “Running with the Pack.” The organization started in one facility in Akron, Ohio and is currently forming chapters in several other locations with a goal of becoming a national entity.

But why is RunningDog so successful? And why have over 500 people taken the training course? The program is a simple concept that has proven to have complex ramifications which create a ripple effect in the lives of the dogs and the runners.

Every day, a dog wakes up with a full energy meter and it is their job to run that meter to zero. This looks different for every dog, but unfortunately most dogs in a rescue situation have very large meters. When a dog has a method of release for this energy, they are calmer and more easily handled, trained and housed. This is where RunningDog steps in and gives a dog that release of energy.

It has also been discovered that the running is only part of what makes the program successful. When you put a dog’s leash in a runner’s hand, that dog isn’t just going around the block. They find themselves miles down the road and far away from the sights, smells and noise of the kennel. This allows the dog to fully relax and lets their true personality shine through. It also allows the runner to observe the dog in new environments. Knowing that a dog loves to swim or doesn’t mind pedestrians or knows how to stay on the sidewalk gives the facility more information for potential adopters.

What was believed would be a fun way to shake up a runner’s training plan has become much more. It has become something that has changed some runner’s lives in several ways.

It has become a way for the runner to participate in their cause in a very real way. Instead of signing up for a race that supports their favorite charity, when they run with an adoptable dog they are involved in that moment. No need to donate money so that someone else can “do the thing;” they are personally engaged in their cause.

The program gives new meaning to a run. When a runner is out with a dog, they very well may be taking this dog on its first trip to the wooded trails or the park and that leaves a lasting impression on the runner.

There are runners who have experienced healing through the program as well. A runner who was returning to running after recovery from an eating disorder found the program to be exactly what they needed. No longer was running about pace or calories or distance; it was about the dog. A runner who was recovering from a head injury experienced the stabilizing effect of running with a dog to combat vertigo. A runner who was victimized on an isolated trail felt safe with a dog by her side and was able to return to the trails that she loved.

So, when you run with RunningDog, your run is absolutely the best part of a homeless dog’s day…and it will probably be the best part of your day, too. For information about the RunningDog program and how to become involved, see their website

Running Dog Akron

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