When the RuffTail Runners reached out to Ruffwear asking for Flat Out™ Leashes and explained their program, we immediately took notice. RuffTail Runners is one of the coolest organizations out there. The concept spawned off of Team Spiridon – a running training group based in Austin, TX. At some point, they got the idea that it would be great if they could volunteer to run the dogs at the local shelter while on their runs. Once each runner goes through a training at the shelter and are approved, they can then head over and help the shelter dogs get exercise anytime they are heading out to run!
Lauren Schiely, a volunteer with the RuffTail Runners, was nice enough to share her experiences with us. We hope you enjoy!
I was very new to running when I first heard of the RuffTail Runners. I loved the idea of it but was very hesitant to sign up; I thought I’d be too slow or get winded too quickly and let the dogs down. Luckily I found the confidence to sign up for a training session, and not to sound too dramatic, but it kind of changed my life. I started posting pictures of the dogs I’d run with on Facebook, which led to acquaintances approaching me and asking “Are you the girl that runs with dogs?” or “How are you getting to run with all these cool dogs?”
One of my favorite things about RuffTail Runners is getting approached by people on the trail who see the dog’s “ADOPT ME” vest and want to know more about the dog or about the program. It’s then that I become not only a volunteer but a spokesperson for both RuffTail Runners and Austin Pets Alive!. I realize that this is my chance to advocate this dog and possibly get him or her adopted, or even just promote the program and recruit a new runner. Either way, it’s another really great thing that comes out of a simple run on the trail: I get exercise, the dog gets exercise and a break from the shelter, the program gets promoted, and the dog gets some publicity from prospective adopters. Nothing makes me happier than to hear that one of my running buddies has been adopted, although the news can be bittersweet. It’s absolutely true that the runners form bonds with the dogs, whether they take a dog out once or regularly. Sometimes I’ll be out running with a dog and he or she will look back at me and there’s just this connection that can be best described as an expression of gratitude. You can tell you’ve really made that dog’s day, and that’s something to feel good about.
I was recently given the amazing opportunity to race with one of the shelter dogs in the Run Like the Wind 5K put on by the Schrodi Memorial Training Fund and the Canine Center for Training and Behavior. I picked Chloe, the sweetest and spunkiest little terrier/pit mix (who is still looking for a home, by the way!) to be my partner. The race was so much fun and Chloe was great; she didn’t pay attention to the other dogs on the trail and kept up with me the entire time, only looking back now and then as though to say “Am I doing a good job?” She got so many compliments (and treats) after the race that I know it made her day as well as mine.
Another wonderful thing about the program is the instant mood boost that I get from taking a dog out to run—I don’t think it’s possible to be in a bad mood knowing that you’ve brightened a dog’s day. Even if the dog doesn’t seem to want to run, I think that even just spending some time with him and maybe even letting him splash around in the water has huge benefits: dogs who are given regular exercise and attention turn out to be better adjusted socially as well.
I obviously can’t say enough good things about the RuffTail Runners program. I’m so happy that I decided to sign up for that training session six months ago or I wouldn’t be a part of the amazing community that RuffTail Runners has become. Last month when RuffTail Runners announced the adoption of everyone’s favorite running buddy Andre Agassi on Facebook, 338 people “liked” the post. I think that’s a huge testament to how invested we’ve all become in this program—we want it to succeed because so many dogs and people benefit from it. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s looking for a running buddy! You will be paid in slobbery dog kisses, and those are the very best kind.
Thanks to Lauren Schiely for sharing her story with us!
For more information on the RuffTail Runners, visit http://www.rufftailrunners.org/