I'm really excited today to introduce you to our guest blogger, Beverly Dillon. Last year I wrote a story about her effort to get runners, walkers and hikers to take rescue dogs along for their workouts. Here's her story in here own words:

What if your run today was the highlight of someone else’s day?

I am the founder of RunningDog, a program at One of a Kind Pet Rescue in Akron that allows runners to volunteer their time to take dogs in rescue out on much needed runs.

The idea came to me when I was training for a half marathon. A friend brought a dog on our run, and 10 miles never went by so quickly - and painlessly! I developed aspirations of becoming a dog runner, but I needed experience. So off to One of a Kind I went! After running the homeless dogs for awhile, something changed. My dog running became more about them than me, and RunningDog was born. I started finding other runners to join the effort.

The volunteer program benefits the dogs and their human running partners. A good run can be cleansing and cathartic for a dog. Those living in rescue environments are stressed, even those that seem well-adjusted and happy. When we let them run and get rid of that pent up energy, it makes them more adoptable. They are calmer, balanced and tired - the perfect recipe for a happy dog and one more likely to attract a new owner.

It's also been a game changer for my running life. There is an emotional motivation you won’t find in any other training plan. On days I don't feel like putting my running shoes on, I think of Max waiting patiently for me to show up and bust him out. The happiness and joy these dogs experience energizes me better than any pre-workout powder could. Watching these canines run like the wind, and watching the stress melt away, often encourages me to put in extra miles.

The program is for runners of every conditioning level. Some of the dogs like to do intervals of trotting and walking; perfect for beginner runners. Some dogs like to do intervals of sprinting and trotting; perfect for runners wanting to increase their pace time. We have dogs that enjoy a 12 minute mile, and dogs that enjoy a 6 minute mile. We also have a good working knowledge of the dogs’ temperaments and history. We try to pair our runners with dogs that will fit them.

You can run solo at your convenience, or join our weekly “Run with the Pack” group. We also take the dogs to local dog-friendly 5k’s and trail runs. We take advantage of the Summit County Hiking Sprees and hold “Hike with the Pack” events weekly, a great activity for your rest or recovery day.

For more information about RunningDog, write me at 0runningdog0@gmail.com or call One of a Kind Pet Rescue at 330-865-6200. You can also read about the daily experiences of other volunteer dog runners at our Facebook Page, RunningDog Runners: https://www.facebook.com/groups/518220111668519

- Beverly Dillon


Visit the blog tomorrow to see the four-legged running partners of some of our Blue Line Beginners. Also, you'll get a peek of a little gift I'll be passing out to everyone who shows up at our Saturday group meetup :)

- Paula