I’ve run three full marathons in the past two years and owe much of my running motivation to shelter dogs. In high school I ran cross country, which was considered “distance running” with mere 3.1-mile races. Since then, I’ve continued a few 4-5 mile runs each week, but never wanted to do anything as long as a half-marathon, much less the full 26.2 miles.
When I started volunteering at The Austin Animal Center six years ago, I would take the bored, lonely dogs on runs around the 3-mile Town Lake trail loop. These runs made such a dramatic difference in the dogs’ behavior (a tired dog is usually a mannerly dog), that I wanted to take as many of them out as possible. Soon I was taking four dogs on runs each Saturday morning, which was 3 miles X 4 dogs = 12 miles. Then it became five dogs and then six. Because my focus was on getting the dogs exercised rather than getting myself in shape, it was easy to work up to this mileage!
In May 2011, Fitness Magazine featured me in an article about exercising while improving the world. I HIGHLY recommend getting in shape with shelter dogs. You make them more adoptable and happy while decreasing your BMI – it’s the ultimate win-win!
To become a volunteer dog walker/runner, please visit http://www.austintexas.gov/department/volunteer