Love of fitness, animals leads to formation of dog-running group
— When Beverly Dillon laces up her running shoes, she also reaches for a leash. Dillon has combined her love of running with her love of animals by starting a group called RunningDog Runners last August, which helps local shelter dogs become more adoptable.
“The miles just went by so fast because I was distracted by the dog and I really enjoyed it,” says Dillon, a Stow resident who has partnered with One of a Kind Pets to help these dogs expend energy, which often leads to them being able to focus on obedience training and finding homes more quickly than those that don’t get these workouts. Dillon volunteers there twice a week, running with four dogs a day, for about two miles each run.
Dillon sees this as a perfect way to combine her fitness and love for volunteering. “One of a Kind works so well with volunteers and they give us the freedom to do what we want without any barriers,” she adds.
Describing her experience, Dillon says, “When I take them out, they are a ball of energy. After about half a mile of running, they settle in to the task and they’re great. After they run, they get calmer. There was this dog called Esperenza that was a boxer and pit bull mix so she had an intimidating look to her, and on top of that, she couldn’t concentrate on skill learning. Within 30 days, she learned all of her commands and she was adopted.”
Janis Worley, the manager of Advancement Volunteer Programs at One of a Kind Pets, echoes Dillon, saying, “The running program has been amazing. Every dog wakes up with an energy meter that’s full and this is a great way to run that meter down.”
Worley adds that the regular exercise the dogs get from running allows them to focus on their skill-learning and it has been a key part in securing some adoptions.
“We even have pace times on some of the dogs. When you have a person that’s training for a marathon, this can be an amazing fit,” Worley says.
After the success she had with running the dogs, Dillon reached out to a local running group called Crooked River Trail Runners and asked them if they would be interested in a group of runners volunteering at the local pet rescue and their response was positive.
Formal orientation for RunningDog Runners began in October last year and Dillon got 50 people through it and about a dozen people to come to One of a Kind regularly to run with the rescued dogs. Now that group has grown to 265.
The program is sponsored by Second Sole Akrun.
“I’m just happy to know that I give them a few moments of happiness. Dogs rarely walk anywhere; they’re always running and it feels good to be a part of this,” says Dillon, who also works as a personal trainer.
In the fall, the running group is going to take over the planning for the Chase Your Tail 5K run, an event that will combine dogs and handlers.
In addition to volunteering, Dillon also works with private clients to take pets on regular runs. She’s accepting clients through her Facebook page at “Beverly Dillon.”
One of a Kind Pet Rescue is located at 1929 W. Market St. To volunteer, visit www.oneofakindpets.com/site or call (330) 865-6890.