Going to the dogs

A California gym coach who was looking for ways to drum up motivation for the students on his cross-country running team as they went away for the summer break came up with a brilliant idea: pair the runners with shelter dogs. It was eight years ago when GNN first reported on it, and ever since it has become a mainstay of the training program at St. Joseph High School in Santa Maria, California. It became so much more, however, after a simple video of the kids running with the dogs went viral, causing athletic directors around the country to phone St. Joseph and ask how they organized the program.

Steinbrenner High School in Lutz, Florida, was the second school that picked up on the shelter dog runs, and others followed suit like Rock Island, Illinois; all because of the viral video that occasionally resurfaces on social media. “It was 60 seconds of genuine, organic kindness.” “The world needs kindness.” “The dogs want to go out and run; the kids love dogs, and they love running. It was a perfect marriage,” said coach Escobar. For the original program, Escobar contacted a Santa Barbara animal shelter, which was totally on board.

One iconic moment was a high school runner who comes walking by the camera carrying a small dog named Fred, and he remarks “Fred’s had it.” As it turned out, the young man and his family decided to adopt Fred; the first of many such unions since the program’s launch, something which Escobar says is what he is most proud of. On the other end of the country, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay has been working with Steinbrenner High. Allison Szponar, the head coach of the Tampa team said, “For the dogs, the runs allow them to burn off loads of nervous energy, leaving them calmer and more adoptable when they get back to the shelter.

The Steinbrenner High School Boys Cross-Country Team makes an early-morning stop at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay to pick up their running mates. The team takes shelter dogs to Al Lopez Park in Tampa for some exercise and a change of scenery. “They get to get out in just fresh air and just to be able to run around and have a good time,” said Steinbrenner senior Bryce Krueger. “Beyond just taking these dogs for a good run, they’re also giving them exposure to help them find homes. People are always wondering who we are when we’re out here, so trying to promote it or keep the dog who we want to be adopted kind of out and around and just let people know what we do,” continued Bryce. “We’ll post some of the dogs and everything on our social media so that it just tries to get the word out a little more. Some of these dogs, the guys really fall in love with and they don’t want to take them back,” said Szponar. “It benefits the dogs by getting dogs with all of this activity and all this hyper energy and it gets them running that off a little bit and then when they go back to the shelter they’re more adoptable.”

Dog walking therapy

We had a friend of my sister’s visit in Florida from Washington DC. We showed her the virtues of country living. One Spring morning we took her on walk through the orange and lemon groves near our house. There was a light breeze and the scent of all the blossoms filled the air. Our visitor stopped took a deep breath and twirled around with her arms outspread saying, “This is so nice, it smells just like room air freshener.”  

Every morning I tell my wife that I’m going jogging, but I never go…
It’s a running joke.

I started jogging today
Just kidding. I exercised restraint instead.

My doctor told me that jogging could add years to my life.
He was so right….. I feel 10 years older and I only jogged for 15 minutes.

April 22nd Birthdays

1966 – Amber Heard, 1967 – Sherry Shepherd, 1985 – Lauri Hendler, 1976 – Resse Witherspoon

1931 – William Shatner, 1972 – Willie Robertson, 1937 – Jack Nicholson, 1936 Glen Campbell

Morning Motivator: