CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - It’s not unlike a dating app, matching runners to shelter dogs.
For Beverly Dillon, the founder of Running Dog, her pet project started when she was looking for a distraction.
Dillon was training for a half marathon and wanted to find a running buddy, she turned to the four-legged variety.
Running Dog’s mission is to improve the quality of life of shelter dogs by getting them exercise, the group matches runners to the adoptable pets.
“My inspiration came when I realized I was giving these dogs something they can’t get anywhere else,” Dillon said.
When Dillon started the group she couldn’t have anticipated the effect she would have on her volunteers. She originally dismissed the impact running with shelter dogs would have.
“The first time someone told me Running Dog changed their life I was like, okay you were ready for something like this, it was time for you, but after a half dozen tell me this, I really started to ask questions,” Dillon said.
One volunteer couldn’t agree more. Julie Shinn told 19 News, “I run because I love doing things with the dogs, it changed my life, I’ll get emotional talking about it.”
Today, Dillon has had 600 runners go through the orientation to run the shelter dogs. At any given time more than 50 runners are actively participating, logging over 10,000 miles to date.
“You get such a good feeling when you make a connection with a dog,” runner Nicole Meyer said.
For some, running with the dogs provides motivation, some even admit the dogs help by pulling them along, but for others, they describe seeing the “joy” on the dog’s faces make volunteering all worth it.
“It’s the best thing I’ve done, I love helping at the shelter, they seem to love it, it’s a win-win,” said Shinn.
“How can you resist these faces, when you see how much of a difference it makes,” runner Adrienna Frazier asked.
Dillon’s plans include growing past Northeast Ohio, maybe even nationwide.
“Whenever you can use the skill that you have to help someone else, it really adds something to your life,” Dillon told 19 News.