A few years ago, the cover of CLE DOG magazine caught my eye. I was drawn in by the photo of people running with dogs. More specifically, the City Dogs Running Club, a group of amazing volunteers who spend their time running with dogs from the Cleveland City Kennel. I saw that article and immediately started looking into how I could get involved.
I did some digging and learned that not only does City Dogs have a running group, but they also do a lot more, including dog walking, events and a monthly hike. I attended a volunteer orientation session (find upcoming sessions here) and started my dog walking training. Three training sessions later and I was ready to start with the run group.
Each Saturday I wake up and start my day with a different city dog. The kennel workers and volunteers help determine which dogs would benefit the most from getting out of the kennel for a run – whether it’s a dog that might not do well in playgroup, a stressed dog or a dog who has been at the shelter for awhile and just needs to decompress a bit.
We harness the dog, jump in our car and head to one of the running paths nearby. Depending on the weather, the dog’s interest in running and a variety of other factors, we run between 2.5 to 3.5 miles each run. Regardless of whether we are actually running, each dog gets to spend time out of what can be a stressful kennel environment, while working off extra energy and getting lots (and I mean lots) of love. We’re also helping them show off their best selves, in the hopes of getting adopted sooner.
No matter how tired I am or how cold it may be (winter running never used to be my thing until I joined City Dogs), I have never regretted going and spending time with these pups as they wait for their forever home. I fall in love with a new dog each week and pray they don’t have to wait too long until they find their humans. I honestly can’t think of a way I’d rather spend my time.
I joined City Dog Runners four years ago now, but I feel like I’ve been part of the group forever. The volunteers at City Dogs are a very special group. I find myself constantly inspired and motivated by these incredible people who share their time and their homes with city dogs. They have more heart and commitment than most people I’ve met. I feel blessed to be part of this group.
Many times, people tell me they don’t think they could volunteer at a shelter because it would be too sad seeing all the dogs. I’m not going to lie and say it isn’t hard and that I don’t want to take them all home, because I do. But knowing that I am helping make even one dog’s stay at the shelter a little better than if I didn’t show up, more than makes up for that feeling.
And, in case you still aren’t convinced, here are just some of the reasons I spend my time running with Cleveland City Dogs:
- I get endless kisses and snuggles from the sweetest dogs around.
- I get to help improve a dogs stay at the kennel, giving them some much needed enrichment until they are adopted.
- I get an abundance of adorable dog pictures to fill my Instagram and Facebook feeds.
- I am happier because these I get to spend my time doing what I love – hanging out with dogs.
- I am getting exercise and fresh air.
- I make new friends who inspire me each day.
Have I convinced you that volunteering with City Dogs is amazing? Check the City Kennel Facebook page for upcoming volunteer orientations or feel free to reach out with questions about my own experience. Unable to volunteer? You can always donate!