High School Kids Let Lonely Shelter Dog Join Their Cross-Country Team –
When a 3-year-old dog named Jasper was transferred from animal services to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, he was full of energy. In fact, he had so much energy, Glen Hatchell, a dog trainer who works at the shelter, didn’t think Jasper would do very well living in a kennel.
In an effort to help Jasper, Hatchell put him into a play group with some of the other dogs. But this only did so much for the overactive dog.
“His days had become repetitive for him, and I could tell that Jasper needed more enrichment, because his play was a little rougher than the other dogs, and he seemed to have a shorter temper at times.”
Thankfully, a solution presented itself when a volunteer made a great suggestion.
“One of our volunteers has a daughter who’s in a local high school,” Hatchell said. “They cooked up the whole idea of having some of the dogs run with the cross-country track team. I jumped right on it because I thought it was a great thing for Jasper.”
A group of runners from Steinbrenner High School picked up Jasper from the shelter and took him running at Al Lopez Park, a spring training and minor league baseball park in Tampa.
Jasper kept up remarkably well, despite having never run such long distances before.
“The first day he ran with them, he did about 3 to 3 and a half miles,” Hatchell said. “And the next day, about 2 and a half miles.”
Amazingly, when Jasper returned to the shelter after a long run, he still had energy to burn.
“He’s ready to play,” Hatchell said. “He’s a little bit more relaxed, but he’s not ready to lie down on the bed and chill out for a while.”
But running with the cross-country team was a boon for Jasper — and it even helped him find his forever home.
“He was adopted this past weekend by one of the runners, who is now at the University of Florida in Gainesville,” Hatchell said. “And he’s living in a house with all the runners in this school … so he’ll stay with the boys that he’s already come to know over the last few weeks.”