At St. Joseph High School in Orcutt, California, the cross-country team can be seen each day out running for miles as they train for their upcoming races.
Each year, though, the team gets to run one very special circuit during their practices—and they get to help the animals at a local dog shelter in the process.
The school first partnered up with the Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter in 2016, aiming to help the shelter’s dogs get in some exercise and fresh air by inviting the dogs out to run with the students one day during their training.
This morning me and the St. Joseph High School Cross Country Team conducted our workout at the County Animal Shelter in Santa Maria. With the help of Stacy Silva we successfully completed the first ever team Dog Run! Each team member was assigned a dog and we went out for a couple miles around the shelter. I am not sure who was more excited and having the most fun…the dogs or the kids. Either way, it was a great time and I am sure we will do it again sometime soon. Thanks Stacy Silva and Geoff Clinton
تم النشر بواسطة Luis Escobar في الخميس، ٤ أغسطس ٢٠١٦
Shelter spokesperson Stacy Silva saw the team running their practice route past the shelter one day and realized that the proximity between the high school and the shelter could make for a perfect partnership. She knew that the dogs would all love to get more exercise and affection and figured that she would reach out to the cross-country team’s coach to see if maybe the students wanted a chance to bring a friend along on their run one day.
“Geographically, we’re very close,” she explained in a 2018 interview with KTVU. “I thought, ‘Why aren’t they running our dogs?’”
Each runner was given a dog and a leash then sent out for their workout—where they were able to log their miles and bond with a dog waiting for their forever home at the same time.
The program was a resounding success, as the students delighted in the chance to add a bit of fun to their training for the day.
“I am not sure who was more excited and having the most fun … the dogs or the kids,” team coach Luis Escobar wrote online after the first event. “Either way, it was a great time and I am sure we will do it again sometime soon.”
And for the dogs, that first day in 2016 was a dream come true; all but one straggler managed to finish the workout, and they were all given the opportunity to get in some extra interaction and fresh air in a way that provided partners with more than enough energy to spare with them.
“The kids loved it and the dogs were so excited,” said Escobar.
The school and shelter have brought the program back each year, letting the team run with the dogs one day during their season.
It may make for an easy practice, slowing the kids down a bit for one practice each year—but it also serves as a great incentive and a much-needed break during a grueling sport season.
The interaction that the dogs get outside of their cages is incredibly important, so Silva has said that other schools have connected with local shelters after getting inspired, as well. She even had a school from Fairfield, California—a full 300 miles up the coast from Santa Monica—reach out to her in order to see what they needed to do to get a similar program started in their area.