Author: Charlotte Dog Runner

International Assistance Dog Week: August 3-9, 2014

Photo Courtesy of Teresa Benke and

Many of you may have seen this touching story on the Today Show (Guide dog lands spot in yearbook next to girl he takes care of: ‘They’re such a great team’ – TODAY June 10, 2014), in TIME Magazine or floating around on Facebook.  Taxi Benke is an assistance dog who is inseparable from 14-year-old Rachel Benke.  Rachel suffers from epileptic seizures and Taxi can predict when a seizure is coming.  He can quickly alert family and teachers.  Taxi attends school with Rachel every day and now has a spot in the middle school yearbook alongside Rachel and her classmates.

Assistance dogs give individuals hope and independence.  These dogs serve as companions, helpers, aides, best friends and close family members.  There are several types of assistance dogs.  Most people are familiar with Guide Dogs, those that assist people with vision loss.  Here is a brief description of some other types of assistance dogs.

  • Service Dogs – These dogs assist people with disabilities with walking, balance, dressing, transferring from place to place, retrieving and carrying items, opening doors and drawers, pushing buttons, pulling wheelchairs and aiding with household chores, such as putting in and removing clothes from the washer and dryer.
  • Hearing Alert Dogs – These dogs alert people with a hearing loss to the presence of specific sounds such as doorbells, telephones, crying babies, sirens, another person, buzzing timers or sensors, knocks at the door or smoke, fire and clock alarms.
  • Medical Alert/Medical Response Dogs – These dogs alert or respond to medical conditions, such as heart attack, stroke, diabetes, epilepsy, panic attack, anxiety attack, post-traumatic stress, and seizures.

International Assistance Dog Week was created to honor the hardworking dogs that help individuals mitigate their disability-related limitations.  Assistance dogs are found in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, and private homes.  They enhance the lives of children, seniors, active-duty service members, and Veterans.

Please share your stories, experiences, and photos in the comments below, or with us on Facebook or Twitter.  Let’s raise awareness about how these specially trained dogs are aiding so many people in our community.  Let’s honor the trainers who work with these devoted and hardworking dogs.  Let’s recognize the heroic deeds performed by assistance dogs everyday in our lives and the lives around us.


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Dog Bed to 5k Program

GBGV-Emma-ready-to-work-outDogs make great workout partners.  They rarely have meetings to attend or emails to return so their schedules are really flexible!  They are ready when you are!  Well, they are available.  Depending on your current workout level, they may or may not be physically ready to join you. With the cooler fall weather coming in just a little over a month, it is time to get your dog ready to join you on those beautiful fall walks and/or runs.

The most common job for dogs these days is Couch Potato, or Dog Bed Potato.  Going from Dog Bed to 5k will make your dog healthier and happier.  Here are my top tips for getting your dog from Dog Bed to 5k.

1.  Take your dog to your vet for a check-up.  Make sure your pet is up to date on vaccinations and physically able to begin a fitness program.

2.  Follow a customized program.  A dog’s exercise needs and abilities vary by breed, age and individual traits.

3. Protect your dog during walks and/or runs.

  • You will most likely wear shoes with thick, comfy soles on them so your dog’s footpads will be more sensitive than your feet.  Be wary of pavement temperatures that may be too hot, broken glass, or other objects that may harm their paws.
  • Watch where you are going, especially if you are near restaurants or picnic areas.  Dogs can snatch a leftover chicken bone or other choking and digestive hazard in a matter of seconds.
  • Not all dogs are friendly!  Not all are up to date on vaccinations.  Not all are free of fleas.  It is a good rule of thumb to keep your dog away from all dogs you do not know.
  • Watch closely for signs of overheating or limping.

There are many benefits of running for both you and your dog.  Heart health, muscle tone, anxiety reduction, and weight management are just a few.  However my favorite benefit may be joy!  Have you ever watched a dog run?  Pure joy!  Joy that is contagious!

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Meet Stewart

StewartWhat a fun run Stewart and I had last night!  We did three miles along the light rail track path.  He loved all of the sights and sounds and, of course, the exercise!

Charlotte Dog Runner, Greater Charlotte SPCA, and TrySports were at the Triple C Brewery last night for the weekly Triple C Beer Runners group run.  What a great combination…running, dogs, beer, and great company!

Stewart is a foster dog with the Greater Charlotte SPCA.  He is about two years old and a great running partner!  He is house trained and great on a leash.  He is super sweet and looking for his forever home!

In case you are not familiar with Greater Charlotte SPCA, they are a non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless pets.  They do not have a shelter facility.  All pets are fostered in the homes of volunteers.  Since most of their pets come from shelters and other rescue situations, fostering the pets in homes gives volunteers the opportunity to get to know each pet’s personality and needs and match them with the right adoptive family.

If you are interested in adopting Stewart or would like more information on the Greater Charlotte SPCA, you can find them at or send an email to

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July 4th Safety Tips

FireworksAs a first time dog mom, I was excited to spend my first July 4th with Annie Girl.  We headed to the park early in the afternoon to pick out the best spot and enjoy time with family and friends before the fireworks started.  We had a great time!

Until the first boom.  Before the first color burst faded, Annie Girl was off the ground and in her grandpa’s lap.  Imagine his surprise!  One second he is looking up at the sky and the next an eight month old lab is shaking in his lap!  Needless to say Annie Girl and I watched the rest of the fireworks from a few blocks away, inside the car, with the radio turned up to drown out the booms.  I held her close as she trembled in fear.  I felt horrible!  HORRIBLE!

Did you know that more dogs run away on July 4th than any other day of the year?  No, they are not making their own declaration of independence.  They are scared.  Terrified.  Frantic.

So here are a few tips to help keep your dog safe on July 4th.

  • Keep your dog indoors.  Turn on music or the television to drown out any fireworks sounds that may be heard in your neighborhood.  Putting him or her in a crate or other place they deem safe may ease anxiety.  If you must have your dog outside, be sure your yard is fenced in and someone is able to keep an eye on your dog at all times.  Not only is there a risk of higher anxiety and running away when outside, there is also the risk of a stray bottle rocket or other lit firework hitting them.
  • Never use fireworks around your dog.  Even sparklers can lead to burns on the face and paws of curious dogs.
  • Do not put glow jewelry on your dog.  While it may be tempting to adorn them with red, white, and blue glowing necklaces as collars, if ingested not only is there a toxic substance inside, the plastic containers may lead to intestinal blockage.
  • Never leave food or alcoholic drinks unattended where dogs can reach them.  A chicken bone snatched from an unattended plate can get lodged in your dog’s throat.  Foods like grapes and chocolate are great for humans celebrating a holiday but may be toxic to dogs.  Just like in humans, alcoholic beverages can cause intoxication which can lead to weakness, coma and possibly respiratory failure in dogs.  It is best to keep your dog on their normal diet.  Any change may lead to indigestion and diarrhea.  Cleaning carpets is not a fun way to spend July 5th!

We hope you have a happy and safe July 4th!

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What The Dog Saw Today

Tree Canopy in Plaza MidwoodThank you Plaza Midwood for sharing your shaded streets with us for our run this morning!  As the temperature heats up in Charlotte, those trees really make a difference.  If you aren’t familiar with the area, Plaza Midwood was developed in the 1920s. Like many of the older Charlotte neighborhoods, Plaza Midwood is full of history and character.  You can learn more about the history of Plaza Midwood here.  One of my favorite parts of this neighborhood is the diverse architecture.

Water Fountain in Plaza Midwood

Plaza Midwood residents love their dogs and know how to treat them!




Van Landingham Estate

The Van Landingham Estate has a special place in my heart.  My husband and I were married there!  Running by brings back such wonderful memories of family and friends.



If you aren’t familiar with Plaza Midwood, take some time this weekend to explore it.  You will love it!  After exploring the tree-lined streets and taking in the history of the neighborhood, walk or bike to Central Avenue and enjoy a bite at one of the great restaurants (Dish is a local favorite!) or browse in one of the nearby shops.  If you are lucky enough to live there, thanks for sharing your neighborhood with us!

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Summer Reading Time!

Dog ReadingSchool is out.  Summer vacations are in progress.  Ice cream is melting.  And the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Summer Reading Program is starting!

Reading is not only a way to learn new things, it is a great way to escape and relax!  The Charlotte Mecklenburg Library offers summer reading programs for all ages – really, all ages!

CM Library Summer Reading Program 

You can find books on almost any topic!  Here is a list of a few of our favorite dog lover reads.

Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant – A great series for children!

Marley  by John Grogan – Another great series for children.  You may recall the name John Grogan from his bestseller Marley & Me. He also wrote The Longest Trip Home for adults.  It isn’t about dogs but it is a great read!

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein – Grab some tissues!

How to Be Your Dogs Best Friend: A Training Manual for Dog Owners by Monks of New Skete – A must read for any dog owner.

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron – I’ll confess I haven’t read this one but it on my list for this summer.

Of course our list wouldn’t be complete without at least one book about running!

Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen by Christopher McDougall – Trust me.  Even if you don’t consider yourself a runner, this book will amaze and inspire you.

Run Like a Mother: How to Get Moving –and Not Lose Your Family, Job, or Sanity by Dimity McDowell and Sarah Bowen Shea – The title says it all!

So, what places will you explore this summer?  What new skills will you learn?  How will you expand your mind?  How will you help young ones retain the skills they learned during the school year?  Will you set an example that helps others develop a love of books and reading that lasts a lifetime?

Just in case you need a little more motivation, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library Summer Reading Program offers prizes!

What’s on your summer reading list?

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Take Your Dog to Work Day – Friday, June 20th

Take your dog to work day 2014Are you ready?  The next Take Your Dog To Work Day is Friday, June 20th!  Over the years I have worked with several companies that allowed employees to bring their dogs to work.  Studies have shown the positive impact of dogs in the workplace.  Just imagine the increase in creativity when dogs are roaming around the office.  They just might add that missing spark to your next presentation!

Some employers have concerns about allowing dogs in the workplace.  Believe me, after working with Human Resources for 15+ years, I understand those concerns!  Building codes, liability issues, and employee allergies are just a few things to consider.  There are ways to address these concerns and make the event a success for everyone!  However, if dogs can not be allowed in your office, there are still ways you can celebrate.  Consider having employees bring in items from your local shelter’s wish list along with a photo of their furry friend.

Here are 7 Rules For Success on Take Your Dog To Work Day.  Download Your TYDTWD Action Pack Today 


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Happy National Running Day!

National Running Day 2014Happy National Running Day! shared a great list of 10 ways to celebrate.  Of course we like number 8 the best!

8. Join the 6-Legged Race

When you run with your four-legged friend, he gets just as many health benefits as you do. What’s more, running with your dog is a great way for you to bond and an easy way to stay safe on the road.

See the entire list @ 10 Ways to Celebrate National Running Day

How are you celebrating?  Connect with us on Facebook to share your celebrations.

Follow Charlotte Dog Runner on Facebook!


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