Jog the Dogs

posted July 15th, 2010 by
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By PAT ATKINSON

Elaine Palmquist began running for fitness a dozen years ago.
Now approximately 250 runners, joggers and walkers have followed her sneaker tracks straight into the hearts of the dogs at the Tulsa SPCA. A year and a half ago, Elaine’s dream was to bring together shelter dogs who are waiting to meet their forever families with people who love dogs. Jog the Dogs was born and it’s a runaway success! When Elaine and the volunteers are at the shelter, the pets are romping in their large fenced play yards, woofing and wagging, waiting for the snap of the leash, freedom and adventure on a walk or jog in the adjacent meadow or on quiet roads.

“Just seeing the joy on everyone’s faces (canine and human!) is so rewarding,” Elaine says. “The dogs love the one-on-one attention.
They know that it’s playtime with people and the volunteers help them become even more adoptable. “When a dog is with a volunteer he’s learning how to trust people and how to have fun, he’s also learning manners and how to respond to caretakers. Bouncy, unfocused, anxious and energetic dogs begin to settle and benefit from the exercise, increasing their chance of finding forever homes as a companion and family member,” she says.

Now There are Three
Take Boomer, for example. College students Kim Foster and Greg Harmon were among the first to join Jog the Dogs. They met and began running and walking with Boomer, a strong, high-energy, outgoing Foxhound Pointer. “I’d always had small dogs while growing up, so I thought Boomer might be too much for me to handle easily,” Kim recalls. “But from our first time out together, he was a good partner.” As the couple’s favorite furry buddy among the 40-plus dogs in daily residence, it did not take long for Boomer to recognize their car and dance, smile and woof, greeting “his people” when they arrived at the shelter, leashes in hand, ready for outings together. Kim and Greg, along with Katy and Dave Kraus, are now assisting Elaine with new volunteer orientations and off-campus events attended by teams of people and pets. The engaging pup, a stray found walking the streets and brought to the TSPCA when less than a year old, soon left paw prints on the hearts of the couple and, when they became engaged, Boomer figured into their future. After waiting more than a year at the shelter, Boomer was Kim and Greg’s early wedding gift in May from Jog the Dogs friends and now there are three, home together and planning an August wedding. Boomer may attend the garden wedding! Other volunteers have met their best buddies at the no-kill shelter and made it a forever friendship.

Get Up and Move It!
It was, of course, dogs who inspired Elaine’s idea for Jog the Dogs.
In the winter of 2009, the busy stay-at-home mom to two little boys was looking for a way to help shelter dogs. “I thought about how my own two dogs, Murphy, an Aussie, and Benny, a Bernese Mountain Dog, bring joy to our family and how they LOVE running with me. I began brainstorming about recruiting runners and walkers to the SPCA to do the same thing I was doing,” she says. She proposed the idea and it was off and running. With the support of the Tulsa Running Club, fitness and yoga centers, gyms, running store owners, media, and others, Jog the Dogs has hit the big time with mentions in national Runner’s World magazine and an upcoming book by Californian Kyra Sundance featuring 101 activities to share with dogs.

And, most importantly, as volunteers at the shelter play with the pooches and cuddle with the kitties, it is truly the pets and their future families who are the biggest winners. Former street cats and unwanted dogs become priceless pets, turning looking for love into forever-loved family friend.

Journalist Pat Atkinson is a longtime friend of the Tulsa SPCA.

Info
Tulsa SPCA 2910 Mohawk Blvd.
918.428.7722 Email: [email protected] Orientations once monthly www.tulsaspca.org

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