Three dogs awaiting their forever homes at the Lycoming County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 2805 Reach Road, have given three local women some motivation to diligently train for an upcoming triathlon.
Kelli Smith, her sister, Kacie, and their friend Jackie Edwards needed something to get them out and moving more often to prepare for a triathlon.
Kellie is a part-time kennel attendant and dog team leader at the SPCA, where Edwards also is a part-time kennel attendant, and the two realized that there were some dogs there - specifically an 8-month old pitbull mix named Major - who needed a little more time out of the kennels. They decided that the dogs would make perfect training partners.
Kacie is a Pennsylvania College of Technology student, and Kellie said her sister ropes her into doing things together.
"We started about two weeks ago, and we needed ambition. So we decided to take the dogs with us to keep entertained," Kelli said.
Two other dogs benefiting from the runs are beagle-cattle dog mixes Cherokee and Sugar Bear, who are sisters and are both 8 months old.
"We choose them because they are younger and don't always act the best when in their cage," Kelli said.
Major has a lot of energy and loves to get out and move. Sugar Bear, who is very timid, benefits not just from the exercise, but the socialization she is receiving and the exposure to the environment outside the shelter. The dogs are decked out in bandanas, which say "Adopt Me," while they train with the women on the Susquehanna Riverwalk.
"We walk the first half and get them calm and then run the second half," Kellie said.
The Riverwalk gets the dogs used to bicycles, skateboards, other runners, walkers and even other dogs.
"Major is the main reason we are doing this," Edwards said. "We worked with him at the shelter and we thought we should take him on the dike and go running."
"They definitely need the socialization and the exercise. It's for them and us," Kellie said.
The dogs seem to enjoy their time out. According to Kellie, Cherokee has really come out of her shell and become less timid and more social.
The dogs get public exposure to people who may not come to the shelter to see them, too - specifically ones who are active, just like these dogs. On a recent warm day, the young ladies took the dogs for a short jaunt, and then planned on taking them to the creek to play.
While standing outside the SPCA transport van, a woman spotted them and crossed the street. She walked over and asked them about the dogs, their breeds and ages, and petted them.
Before she left, she commended the young women for doing what they were doing: helping these dogs find a home.
The group plans to continue training with other dogs they believe need extra attention.
"We already have dogs lined up to go training," Kellie said.