Wagstrong: Dogs, medals and half marathons

Whenever we asked my parents why we didn’t have a dog, the answer (from my mother) was always consistent — because there plenty of dogs in the neighborhood. Both our neighbors had dogs and Lisa, who lived across the street, had a dog, too. Still, it wasn’t as if I was playing with the dogs all the time. My attention span didn’t last long enough to seek out play time with the neighborhood dogs, not when there were pressing things to do, like gather together all my Strawberry Shortcake dolls or put on my Underoos and play Wonder Woman.

My two nieces: Zoey and Ellie.

I liked dogs. I just didn’t know how to act around them. That began to change when my brother got Zoey — an adorable dog of undetermined descent whom I believe was a rescued pup, but I’m not entirely sure. Regardless, I learned how to handle Zoe’s enthusiasm for visitors and quickly she became a member of my extended family. She’s older now, just up to speed for the latest edition to my family, my niece, Ellie.

My latest foray into the canine world came over the last few weeks as I helped Mark take care of his mother’s puppy, Sonata, while mom was on vacation. While Sonata and I had our moments (seriously, what is so tasty about grass?) we had fun times as well. She was like a new friend who came for a visit and I thoroughly enjoyed spending some time with her.

With those two significant doggie encounters, I decided to join up with Juli Goldestein for the St. Petersburg Women’s Half Marathon in November. Dr. Juli, you may recall from a previous post, is in the process of starting the Stryder Cancer Foundation — an organization to help pets who are going through cancer treatment and hospice care and offer emotional and financial support to their human friends. She has set up a team called “Wag Strong” to run this half marathon and raise money for the foundation.

An artistic rendition of the St. Petersburg Women's Half Marathon medal.

I decided to participate for several reasons. First, the race has a cool finisher’s medal. (Never underestimate the allure of good finisher’s medal.) Second, it’s a weekend in Florida in November. (For a Buffalo gal, this is another attractive quality.) Third, I will get to meet Dr. Juli, whom I’ve developed enormous respect for and draw loads of inspiration from. Fourth, it’s a bit out of my comfort zone — flying to a race where I don’t actually know anybody. And I like to stretch my boundaries. Fifth, I get to help an important cause, one that’s just starting, one that will touch other’s lives, one that is often overshadowed by other worthy charitable causes. I may not have a dog in my daily life, but several are part of my extended family. And as corny as it may sound, they have brought a bit of vivaciousness and perspective to my life, even in our brief encounters.

So I’ll proudly Wag Strong!

(And yes, you can make donations to my fundraising efforts for the Stryder Cancer Foundation by visiting my ActiveGiving.com page. The adorable picture is of Dr. Juli and her dog Stryder, who passed away from cancer several years ago and was the inspiration for her foundation.)

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