On a soggy Sunday morning in late March, Jeanne Stevenson and nine other humans got soaked running alongside 10 deliriously happy dogs. The joggers ranged in age from 20 to 60 and go on the same 3-mile route every week training for the upcoming 5K Walk/Run for the Animals hosted by the Humane Society for Southwest Washington (HSSW). The dogs weren’t exactly in training, but they were thrilled to be out in the cool, wet air. As pets waiting to be adopted at the HSSW, these dogs welcome a break that includes exercise and caring companionship.
“It makes me feel good to help the dogs and make them more adoptable,” says Stevenson, who retired from a 25-year career in law enforcement and wanted to continue community service. “I not only exercise the dogs, but I help them socialize and I fill out story cards for potential adopters that describe how they behaved.”
Stevenson was inspired to join Jog-a-Dog’s fundraising team last year thanks to Team Captain Shannon Boyd’s enthusiasm at the event’s kick-off party. Stevenson enjoyed the experience so much, she now volunteers year-round to take the dogs out. Even though she has two black Labradors of her own at home, her heart goes out to the pets on the adoption list. When the joggers arrive at the shelter, HSSW has a list of dogs who have been there the longest, but they always allow people to choose a favorite or even take out a new dog to see how it will do.
“I especially like taking Elton out because he’s been there since February,” says Stevenson. “He’s a 6-year-old Lab mix who can be a bit vocal, but he just wants attention and he’s so sweet. The best thing about this program is that the dogs are so happy after the run, and the worst thing is not being able to take all the dogs home with me.”
Jog-a-Dog is just one of 35 teams raising funds for Walk/Run for the Animals. So far, the team has raised more than $5,000.
“Teams are a critically important part of Walk/Run for the Animals’ fundraising effort,” asserts Stacey Graham, HSSW President. “In addition to inspiring camaraderie, teams generate a fun sense of competition that raises the bar for everyone.”
Stevenson should know. She has personally raised $700 and counting. Part of her commitment is due to a personal interest in every dog there. “HSSW posts a daily list of who got adopted. I admit I go through it every day. It’s very satisfying to see the animals find homes,” she says.
The Walk/Run will take place on Saturday, May 7, 2016 at Esther Short Park in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Runners and walkers will depart in waves to accommodate what is expected to be larger numbers of participants.
Registration for the event is now available at www.hssw.org/walk-run with $35 early bird registration fee available until May 1.
The Annual Walk/Run for the Animals is funded in part by the Thomas A. Plein Foundation, Riverview Community Bank, Waste Connections, Main Event Sports Grill, Mud Bay, VCA and Leonardo’s Pizzeria.
Date: Saturday, May 7, 2016
Location: Esther Short Park; W. 6th & Columbia, Vancouver, Washington
Time: 7:30 am – Registration tent open.
9 am – Run starts. 9:05 am – Walkers leave in waves.
10:00 – 11:30 am – Party in the Park.
10:30 am – Runner Awards and Sit, Stay, Show Off pet trick competition.
11 am – Fundraising Awards.
Cost: $35 through May 1; $40 May 2 – 6; $45 on May 7; kids 12 and under register free
Participate: Pre-register online at http://hssw.org/walk-run
HSSW is open 12-6 pm on Tuesdays-Sundays, and is located at 1100 NE 192nd Ave., just north of Mill Plain in Vancouver.
Contributed by Humane Society for Southwest Washington.