Tuesday, April 17, 2012

For the Love of Dog - Twitter Charity Run

Earlier this year, I participated in the inaugural Twitter Road Race, which was an idea spurred by Doug over at I Run Because...  The event was a way for people all over the globe to run a 5K "together" via the social media network.  I had a lot of fun reading through everyone's posts, feeling grateful that my 5K, part of a 6-mile training session, was not completed while slogging through more than a foot of snow, like others.
Inspired by the fun of this event (and a previous one by another running blogger), Jeff and Tamara over at werrunners initiated the Twitter Charity Run.
Like the Twitter Road Race, people from all over the globe could sign up for various distances from a walk to a full marathon.  The only "catch" was that Jeff and Tamara asked people to donate what their entry fee for a race, or whatever they could afford, to the charity of their choosing.  Tamara has been running in a local 5K that benefits a local hospice for years, and the date of the charity run coincided with that date, but werrunners simply asked that people donate to their favorite charity.
I, of course, was in.
Since I've been using my weekends of late to get some hill workouts in as I prepare for Pat's Run this weekend (there is both a progressive hill in the first half as well as a killer run up into Sun Devil Stadium at the end), I opted for a 10K route, which took me from the Ahwatukee YMCA to loop around some lovely south Phoenix hills, and one not-so-lovely-oh-my-gosh-what-am-I-doing hill, before bringing me back to the Y.
Zooey was, as usual, my enthusiastic companion.

"Let's go, Mom!  Put the camera down!"
The charity that I initially had chosen was my favorite local rescue, the Beagles of Arizona Rescue Club (BARC), the group for whom I made my gluten-free pumpkin pupcakes for Cake Week back in February.  The group is in the process of obtaining a new headquarters, and I want to help everyone out to make sure that foster homes and adoptions are continuing.
But a few weeks ago, one of the coonhound rescues posted a story on Facebook that I could not ignore, and I decided that this effort would focus on that.
RobDar's HoundSong Rescue is a group based out of Indiana.  In operation since 1995, the rescue started working with coonhounds about 8 years ago.  I would venture to bet that their most recent effort has been one of the largest and probably the most heartbreaking.
Thirty-four bluetick coonhounds were found to be neglected and in terrible conditions (so bad I won't go into the details here) in Kentucky.  At first, the owner was thought to be a hoarder of the dogs, but as time went on, it was discovered that he and his wife had gotten ill and had asked someone for help in the care of their hounds, some of which had extremely pedigreed bloodlines (one post I read stated that the owner used to show them).  The care had not happened, and the hounds were in a desperate situation.
RobDar's Houndsong Rescue basically flew into action, and the group was able to pull many (although not all) of the hounds out of their situation and into some immediate veterinary and foster care.  Of course, many of the dogs needed a lot of medical attention, so a ChipIn fund was created to help offset some of these costs, which included everything from heartworm testing on up (the last update is that 11/11 of the hounds who had heartworm testing tested negative - truly a blessing for those fur-babies).
This was where I donated.  The first post I read about the blueticks had me sobbing, and I held Zooey a little too tightly for her comfort, I am sure.  Those poor hounds.  And those poor owners.  Can you imagine asking someone to take care of your pet, part of your family, only to realize that the absolute opposite happened?  I can hardly stand to take Zooey to the doggie hotel when we go out of town, even though she always comes home healthy and happy, and I am grateful for that.  My heart ached - and still does ache - for these hounds, who didn't have someone to make sure that they were happy and healthy or even have a soft, clean place to sleep.

Zooey has LOTS of soft sleep spots.
Had I not had this on my mind, I might have stayed home instead.  The weather over last weekend was not what you'd expect for Arizona in the spring; it was windy and cold (relatively - remember we get used to triple digit temps for a good portion of the year).  The wind, of course, made it colder, and I didn't relish the idea of a run - up and down hills - while it was windy and maybe rainy.  But out the door we went, for neither rain nor sleet nor snow (well, probably sleet and snow, but not rain) can keep my coonhound from going for a run.  For the record, that was a hell of a run, and I was extremely thankful for breakfast, my shower, and my foam roller when I got home (I'm pretty sure that the sounds I made while using the foam roller were similar to the sounds Zooey makes when she's writhing on the floor, trying to scratch an itch on her back).
In what was almost a strange twist of fate, during the first half of our run, we literally ran into another coonhound, something that is not common at all in Arizona.  Since Zooey is a black and tan coonhound, she often gets mistaken for a Doberman whose ears and tail are still in their "natural" state or an extremely underweight Rottweiler, so I'm used to her not being recognized at all as what she is.  The couple who was walking their dog down the hill as we were charging up had an absolutely stunning redbone - the kind featured in the book Where the Red Fern Grows, by Wilson Rawls.  He had a deep bawl that was just like honey, and his fur was just an amazing shade of russet.  When I asked, "Is that a redbone?" the couple stopped in their tracks, shocked that I didn't ask if he was a vizsla or other reddish "it" dog, and we traded excitement in our exclusive "No One Ever Knows What My Dog Is" club and chatted for a few minutes, while the two dogs sniffed each other inappropriately, before we all went on our merry way.
At 6.18 miles... c'mon, Z - .02 more miles!
I hope that my contribution can remind people again that coonhounds, while originally bred to hunt, are not just hunting dogs; they are fantastic companions who are capable of more love than I can imagine.  Zooey is a big lap dog who likes nothing better than to be invited up on the couch to snuggle with The Husband, HRH, and me.  If these blueticks can find homes where they can get a similar invitation because of my small participation (and the larger participation of others who donated and RobDar's HoundSongRescue), I can celebrate another coonhound success story.
There are so many outstanding charities, and I hope to be able to make contributions to the ones that are closest to my heart - the Colon Cancer Alliance, BARC, and United Blood Services (where my donations are in blood).  But I hope that my small contribution will help the blueticks saved by RobDar's HoundSong Rescue not only get spayed and neutered but find homes where they, like my beloved Zooey-girl, can be happy and healthy and where they can curl up contentendly on a soft bed.
Thanks, Jeff and Tamara, for hosting this lovely, compassionate event.  It is always so wonderful to be able to run for a reason that is greater than myself, and knowing that I had my running brothers and sisters out there, running for reasons greater than themselves too made what should have been a chilly, windy day bright and warm instead.  I can't wait for the next Twitter Charity Run!

***4/18 Update - Sadly, the owner of the blueticks has become so ill that he has been hospitalized; thanks to Robdar's HoundSong Rescue, 7 more blueticks are being rescued and fostered, with the last remaining 5 hounds being cared for by the owner's friends.  If you think that you would like to help this rescue effort out (two of the hounds are actually being transported to a Canadian coonhound rescue for fostering), please visit the rescue's Facebook page for details.  I hope and pray that the owner will recover so that he can live his bluetick dream.
***4/22 Update - I learned this evening that the owner passed away earlier today.  My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and family.  All of the remaining hounds are going to need rehoming now.  A donor has announced that the next $500 in donations will be matched, which will enable the rescue to help pay for boarding and veterinary bills for almost all the dogs.  If you can help, please click on the link in my original posting for the ChipIn site.


  1. Allison - Great Post and Thanks so much for participating in the #TwitterCharityRun - It's always nice to run for a cause. Thanks again and we hope to see you back for the 2nd Annual!!

    Jeff and Tamara

    1. I realized that when I run for a cause, I have more fun and end up feeling better about the race, regardless of the distance; it was so fun to know that others across the country were doing the same as I was for their favorite charity at the "same time." You can definitely count me in for Round 2!! :)