High School Track Team Runs With the Big (and Little) Shelter Dogs
George Steinbrenner High School’s track team is pretty spectacular, if you ask me! Five mornings a week, the team takes shelter dogs out running with them–giving companionship and exercise to the dogs who are waiting for their furever homes.
Coach Bob Ennis says that the pups get to spend about an hour a day with the team, running, hanging in the shade and of course, practicing their ‘sprints’ as they chase after squirrels! Coach Ennis says one of his runner’s mothers originally talked to him about incorporating shelter dogs to their practices, after she’d learned about a program in California that was similar.
Ennis contacted the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, and folks at the shelter were more than happy to offer their pups for some cross country companionship. Glen Hatchell is a dog trainer who works with the Humane Society and Hatchell worked with the runners to teach them some basics of running and working with the dogs.
The team is known as ‘Boss Cross’ and they began taking some dogs with them in the mornings earlier this month. Coach Ennis says the boys all look forward to it, and have become very attached to the dogs. They want to help all the shelter pups find homes, and the exercise and companionship help the dogs be calmer when they return to the shelter. That makes them more adoptable, which is the team’s goal.
One dog the team especially loved was Jasper, who had been in the shelter since much earlier this year. He joined the team and they fell in love with him. So much so that two team captains who are headed to the University of Florida this fall will be taking him with them as their adopted pet and running mate!
Coach Ennis says that when school starts back up, the program will end, but he’s planning to do this again next summer and is committed to continuing to help find homes for all the pups they’ve come to love so much.
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