In August 2016, St. Joseph High School’s cross-country running team in Santa Maria, California embarked on a unique endeavor—they decided to invite local shelter dogs to join them for a run. The Santa Barbara County Animal Shelter gladly welcomed the opportunity for their dogs to enjoy some sunshine and stretch their legs. It turned out to be an incredible experience for everyone involved. Coach Luis Escobar expressed his delight on Facebook, confessing that it was difficult to determine who was more excited and having the most fun—the dogs or the kids.
When I came across the video of this event on Facebook, it brought a smile to my face, and it seems I wasn’t the only one. The video went viral, capturing the attention of hundreds of thousands of people, including runners and coaches from various schools. Escobar shared the experience on their Facebook page, and within moments, it garnered hundreds of shares and thousands of likes. Coaches and athletic directors from all over the country reached out to inquire about this heartwarming initiative.
What initially began as a fun run with shelter dogs has the potential to become a widespread phenomenon in schools. Moreover, the local run was a resounding success, with the students already taking the dogs out for a second run. This fills me with immense joy because it benefits the dogs by allowing them to engage with the community, significantly increasing their chances of finding permanent homes.
As Escobar aptly stated, it’s a win-win situation. The dogs receive much-needed exercise, and the children gain exposure to the joys and responsibilities of caring for animals. Perhaps they will discuss their experience with their parents and friends, leading to greater awareness and increased adoption rates for these shelter dogs.
I absolutely adore this idea! It not only teaches team members about the needs of animals but also fosters kindness, thoughtfulness, and hope in finding solutions for homeless shelter dogs. Engaging in fun exercise and being part of a pack brings immeasurable joy to all involved.
Click HERE for the delightful video. I extend my gratitude to everyone involved in this heartwarming initiative. Thank you all!