Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Fitness for free with four-legged friends at Dogs Trust Darlington













With pet and human obesity on the rise, there is an increasing number of initiatives in place to try and fight the flab, both human and canine. As well as planned programmes like Active Family, Active Dog, there are plenty of ways to work off the extra summer ice creams and help a rescue dog get out and about.

Volunteers at Dogs Trust Darlington have been making the most of the Co. Durham countryside to improve their fitness by walking, hiking and running with residents from the Rehoming Centre. With room for 65 dogs at any one time, there's a rescue pooch there to suit everyone's fitness level.

Amanda Meeks (pictured) has been one of Darlington's most sprightly volunteers for the past three years. In all weather conditions she pops down to the Sadberge centre to take the most energetic hounds out for vigorous six mile runs across the surrounding countryside.

Tailoring her runs to suit the needs of the canine companions, Amanda's routes taken in local moor land, woods and river banks to give her charges a really stimulating break from kennels. Their confidence and social skills soar along with their fitness, and Amanda has a long-distance running partner that can keep the pace!

There are also rehoming benefits, as Sue Embleton, Dogs Trust Darlington's Centre Manager, explains:
"Some dogs can find kennel life stressful, meaning they find it difficult to settle and show their best sides to potential owners.

The dogs who have had a good run with Amanda are likely to spend the rest of the day relaxing, and this makes them more appealing to centre visitors. We're always trying to think of new ways to enrich the lives of dogs in our care until a new home is found, but nothing beats a good, long run!"
Amanda adds:
"It's a joy to volunteer for Dogs Trust. I get an enthusiastic and entertaining running companion as well as a warm glow from knowing that an overlooked canine is getting a well-deserved adventure."
If you have some pounds you'd like to shift, are interested in adopting a dog or want to volunteer in another role, call Dogs Trust Darlington on 01325 333 114.
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