We hear Coco before we see her—the clicking of her nails on the hardwood floors and excited panting as she approaches a room full of people. Coco is a big, beautiful Staffordshire terrier mix, and the woman on the other end of the leash, Anita Finkle, is hoping Coco’s big smile and sweet demeanor will earn her a new family.
Finkle is a volunteer at the Regional Center for Animal Care and Protection (RCACP). She spends time walking shelter dogs, like Coco, to give them exercise, affection, and exposure. When she heard about Play Roanoke’s 100-Miler program, she signed up right away. “I’m walking these dogs anyway, so I thought this would be a good way for them to get more exposure,” Finkle said.
The Roanoke 100 Miler program encourages people to complete 100 miles of activity within 100 days. Any type of human-powered activity counts, so participants can walk, run, bike, swim, or even skate. You can even count 30 minutes of weight lifting or interval training as a mile. Anita chooses to get her miles walking the greenway system, and for each mile, she brings an adoptable dog along. In the process, she takes a picture of her walking buddy and posts it to social media with the hashtag #100muttmiles along with some details about the pooch.
Play Roanoke loves seeing people using the greenways and parks, especially when they have a four-legged friend in tow. That’s why we wanted to bring attention to Finkle’s passion for dogs and her great idea to combine our programming with a community need. To help her spread the word, the 100-Miler weekly newsletter, an email that’s sent to all program participants, now contains a “Mutt Miler of the Week” feature with a photo and information about an adoptable dog.
All of the dogs up for adoption at RCACP have had a behavior evaluation, are up to date on shots, and have passed a temperament test. All they need now are loving families to give them a good home. Since beginning her mutt miler campaign, several of the dogs Finkle has walked have been adopted. “I don’t know if it’s because of the mutt miles or not, but it’s just great that these dogs are being adopted!” she said.
So how can you help dogs like Coco?
Adopting is the most obvious answer, but not everyone has that ability. So here are a few other options:
- Foster a shelter dog.
- Advocate for RCACP. Spread the word about who they are and what they do to spread awareness about the cause.
- Donate. Financial contributions go a long way toward purchasing supplies for the dogs of RCACP. If that’s not in the cards, you can always donate food and pet supplies. Every little bit helps!
- Volunteer. Like Finkle, you can become a dog walker. It gives you a chance to get a little exercise while exposing a dog to potential adopters. You can also work in the cat room, help with adoption events, or assist with administrative work.