Pups race owners, pals at Dog Jog 5K

CENTRE HALL — After most races, runners don’t typically cool off by sitting down in the drinking water.

But 6-year-old siblings Tessa and Milo, of Zion, didn’t mind. The pair aren’t normal 5K runners. For starters, each has four legs.

The golden retrievers and their owner, Jenny Miller, joined hundreds of two-legged and four-legged participants Saturday for the fourth annual Dog Jog 5K at the Grange fairgrounds.

“Milo was full speed ahead, Tessa was lagging behind,” Miller said, catching her breath after the group crossed the finish line.

Milo and Tessa, also out of breath, quickly found a way to cool down, plopping into a baby pool filled with water for competing dogs.

Dogs big and small ran, jogged and walked by their owners Saturday across the three-plus-mile course. Some pulled their owners to faster times, others patiently waited for their humans to hurry up.

For some, like Miller’s dogs, it was their the first official race. Others traveled to Centre County to take part in one of the few dog-centered 5K runs in the region.

Todd Runk and his golden retriever, Katie, traveled from Altoona. They were near the top of the pack, finishing in just more than 21 minutes.

Runk and Katie, a dignified 9 years old, have been running together for years. “If she sees running shoes, she goes crazy,”

Chauncy dwarfed smaller dogs like Carlisle, a miniature greyhound who trotted across the finish line with owner Dan Farbowitz, of Allentown.

Not far behind was Julie McGinn, of State College, and her dog, Seamus, a terrier mix. The pair trained for the race last week with Farbowitz and Carlisle.

“Seamus, me and Dan were exhausted,” McGinn said. “This one (Carlisle) trotted the whole time and was ready to play when we got back.”

McGinn said Carlisle was rescued from a puppy mill. She said it’s important to support organizations, such as Pets Come First, which sponsored the run Saturday.

Nicole DeFazio, of Pets Come First in Centre Hall, said the adoption center has found homes for 161 animals since taking over the former SPCA shelter in January.

DeFazio said the race is the organization’s biggest fundraiser of the year. Raising money is more important than ever, she said, now that the organization is running the shelter.

Some of the shelter’s early success stories participated in the race, including a boxer mix adopted by a State College couple.

Many runners Saturday said they were glad to donate if it means the shelter can find homes for more animals.

“We’re excited to help a good cause,” McGinn said. “(Seamus) came from an animal rescue. It’s important to give back.” Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631.