Miles & Mutts

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A Guest Post from Abbi


Running.  It’s one foot in front of another.  The act of running doesn’t seem that special.  However, running can be a powerful tool to help mind, body and give back to others in need, all at the same time.

Miles and Mutts Color

Throughout the course of training for my first marathon, I found a love for the mental part of the sport.  Pushing beyond limits I had set up only in my own mind cultivated a sense of confidence that had been lacking.  Training for a marathon also gives you plenty of alone time with your own thoughts to think about what is important in life.


Realizing that my mundane, uninspiring volunteer time of taking a few adoptable shelter dogs out for a 10 minute meandering around the perimeter of an animal shelter grounds seemed to be doing little for the dog’s well-being or my own well-being, the idea formed to run with shelter dogs.  The goal was help people stay motivated in their own exercise while doing something to truly help the mental and physical well-being for shelter animals who spend too much time inside a kennel.  Dogs in animal shelters do not receive enough exercise and socialization which can impact their adoptability.  With three rescue dogs of my own, I knew what running with a high energy dog could do for her mental well-being. 


For two years, the idea brewed while I researched.  In 2012, I found the right rescue partner and officially launched Miles and Mutts in rural south-central Pennsylvania.  With a slow, controlled growth, the program started pairing dogs with volunteer runners.  


The program is now a regular staple in our area.  Once a week (more when the weather is nicer), groups runs are coordinated to take adoptable shelter dogs out for a run.  All abilities, all paces, and all distances are welcomed.  Volunteers take the dogs for as far as their own ability and the dog’s ability allows.  Tired, happy dogs go back to the shelter while a runner got his or her workout for the day.  Win win for all involved.


Volunteers continue to show up to run with their favorite dog until they find a forever home and the bonds formed are wonderful to witness.  The dogs experience a runner’s high that continues to take my breath away.  Seeing an anxious, rambunctious dog who appears to be bouncing off the walls fall into a calm, relaxed breath perfectly in pace beside you is a special moment that one has to witness to understand.  It’s a state that can only happen in a run, not a quick walk.  


Miles and Mutts is not a unique program, and it’s my goal to help spread awareness for other groups out there while Miles and Mutts continues to grow.  If running with a shelter dog sounds like your type of activity, check out the list of programs compiled so far:  Do You Want to Run With a Shelter Dog?

Miles and Mutts is located in rural south central Pennsylvania, but there are many programs around the country.


Find out more at Miles and Mutts, visit us on the web or the Miles and Mutts Facebook page.  My personal running blog can be found at Higher Miles or on Twitter.  Happy running!


Do you run with your mutt?  Who runs faster – you or your dog?  Smile  This is Caitlin again – I like to take my pups on long walks, but both are too little and low-energy to do much running. It would be fun to have a doggie running buddy!



  • Nina February 12, 2013, 7:41 am

    The ‘on the web’ link doesn’t work’. This is such a awesome program, shelter dogs deserve all the love in the world <3

  • Katie @ Talk Less, Say More February 12, 2013, 7:48 am

    What a great idea!!

  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed February 12, 2013, 7:52 am

    This is SO nice! And I definitely believe a tired dog is a good dog. When we first got our rescue she was used to NO exercise and she was SO needy and in your face… with regular walks (she’s not much of a runner except some loops around the field behind our house or to chase some deer) she’s so much more chill!

  • Katie H. February 12, 2013, 7:52 am

    I was so excited to see a KC location on your list! I am going to have to check it out. What an awesome program!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat February 12, 2013, 7:53 am

    Wow, what a great cause! I adore running and unfortunately my schedule doesn’t allow for me to have a dog of my own, but this spring (after our snow melts!) I’m going to look to see if we have something like this in my area. Thanks for sharing!

  • Nicole @ wethreelocals February 12, 2013, 7:59 am

    I run with my pup for about 20 minutes or so every morning and she loves it! She’s a 9 month old lab/pitbull rescue and the only way to tire her out is to play and run. ALL DAY. Way to go, pup runners!

  • Amy February 12, 2013, 8:11 am

    Love love love this idea!

    My best running buddy is my golden retriever. Hate to admit it, but she’s a much better athlete than I am! The vet actually told us that her resting heart rate is so low, that is she was a human she’d be comparable to Lance Armstrong… writing that now is a little different than it was years ago when he told us that. 🙂

  • Molly @ RDexposed February 12, 2013, 8:21 am

    Part beagle mix in the last picture? I had a beagle and they might be some of the worst running dogs but perfect in every other way!

    • Kara February 12, 2013, 8:27 am

      That’s a Treeing Walker Coonhound in the last pic and they are made for running.

    • abbi February 12, 2013, 9:32 am

      Purebred Treeing Walker Coonhound. She and her sister have been available for adoption for way too long and have spent their entire lives in rescue/shelters. They are our longest distance runners! Endless energy and are bred to cover large tracts of land. I have a beagle of my own though and she is not a good running partner either! 🙂

      • Sonia the Mexigarian February 13, 2013, 6:51 pm

        aw, my god, if she was in CA i would adopt the Coonhound in a heartbeat. I run with my Aussie Lando, though he doesn’t go too long a distance. I hope they both go to good homes very soon. <3

  • Lee February 12, 2013, 8:29 am

    This is really awesome!

    You would think that my Golden Retriever would be a great running buddy, but he sucks. He has to stop and sniff everything and when I stay stop, I mean fully put on the brakes and turn in the opposite direction. It’s a shock that I haven’t gotten hurt.

  • Kara February 12, 2013, 8:29 am

    Nice post Abbi! You already know I’m a big fan of Miles and Mutts and I totally agree with you about the benefits of running on high energy dogs, especially working breeds like hounds! 🙂

    I hope more people get involved in these type of programs or at least reminded about the importance of exercise for all dogs, even those who already have homes.

  • Taylor Almond February 12, 2013, 8:34 am

    I just had to comment, this is such a great idea! It brought tears to my eyes as I read it. I have a high energy dog with behavior issues and he’s the happiest when it’s running season (right now the roads are covered in ice). I wish there was a program in the Chicago area!

    Keep up the good work!

  • Beth @ Running with the Sunrise February 12, 2013, 8:34 am

    That’s such a great idea for a program. My dogs are speedier than I am, but they start to slow down after a mile or two. They also have big thick undercoats, so they don’t get to go running in the summer because I’m afraid they’ll overheat, so their endurance isn’t where it could be.

  • Bethany @ Thomp House Rock February 12, 2013, 8:37 am

    What a wonderful program! Both of our dogs were rescues and I cannot picture life without them. Also, I always feel safer when running or walking with our dogs, I think having them would deter an attacker if the situation arose.

  • kristina February 12, 2013, 8:39 am

    My two year old rescue boxer/great dane mix is my jogging buddy. We keep each other healthy! She LOVES to exercise! I take her jogging in the morning, and then husband and I take her for a long walk in the evening. She fully expects to have both her jog, and her walk, and gets a little crazy if she doesn’t get one or the other when the weather is bad.

    Maggie and I have truly changed each others’ lives. She went from a scrawny 26lb pup when we got her, to a gorgeous, muscular 65lb dog two years later. And since getting her, I’ve gone from overweight, to right on target.

  • Courtney February 12, 2013, 9:10 am

    This is wonderful! I love this idea 🙂 I run with my Lab sometimes, just for fun – not to count mileage, and she can’t get enough of it.

  • Tammy Rot February 12, 2013, 9:31 am

    Abbi — this is a great idea! I used to volunteer at a animal rescue place in PA and I would walk/run with the dogs. It really does make a world of difference. Often, the dogs are in their kennels 24/7 and some are there for months or even years. Wouldn’t it be great if you could make this a nationwide program! How awesome would it be to partner with a national organization like ASPCA who could help promote this program?

    • abbi February 12, 2013, 10:52 am

      I often hear from others that wish they had a program in their area which is why I wanted to at least start a network of programs that already exist. Hopefully one small step at a time it will start to catch on!

  • abbi February 12, 2013, 9:33 am

    Thank you for featuring this guest post and getting these programs seen by a larger audience! From one animal lover to another! 🙂

  • Michelle February 12, 2013, 9:38 am

    Hi Abbi! Some googling isn’t turning up anything like this in my area. Would it be okay of I emailed you with some questions on how you got started? I think this is amazing!

    • abbi February 12, 2013, 10:45 am

      Sure, no problem. You can reach me at highermiles (at) gmail (dot) com

  • Suzy February 12, 2013, 9:50 am

    This is so awesome!! Looks like there’s something similar in Charlotte too, I’ll have to check it out.

    We tried running with our dogs. One loved it, but couldn’t go past 3 miles and the other is too lazy and looks like I’m torturing her.

  • Jacquelyn February 12, 2013, 9:58 am

    This is such a great idea!
    When I visit home, I like to run with my family’s dog Finnegan. He’s an English springer spaniel and loves to run, but after 5 miles he starts to slow down. I took him for 6 miles once and had to drag him the last 200 metres to our house!

  • colleen February 12, 2013, 10:00 am

    Love this idea! I participate in the annual Furry 5K in my area where you can bring your own dogs or run with a shelter dog. All proceeds go towards the local humane society. Running with dogs – especially ones who are pinned up – makes you run faster.

  • Megan LH February 12, 2013, 10:22 am

    Thank you for sharing this! I love this idea :)!

  • Sarah @ Yogi in Action February 12, 2013, 10:33 am

    I absolutely love this idea! I know one of my friends had a husky dog- and as a puppy they use to take the dog to a country road and let it chase the car (with the car going about 15-20 km/hour) for an hour. It was the only way to tire the puppy out. As long as they did this every couple of days, the dog was so well behaved!

  • Clare February 12, 2013, 10:34 am

    Great Post! This is such a fabulous idea for both the dogs and the runners.

    I run the trails every day with my English Springer Spaniel and sometimes my Westie comes along too. They LOVE it…and so do I. It’s like having little personal trainers and when we’re done they sleep for the rest of the day 🙂

  • Megan @ The Running Doc February 12, 2013, 10:47 am

    Wow, I love this and I’d love if something like this got started in my area. And if I knew how I’d totally jump on board and start it myself!

    I have a very high energy year and a half old golden retriever who I take running with me 3-4 days a week. She even goes on all of my half marathon training runs with me and just last weekend we did 9 miles together! There’s no doubt that our runs together make her a happier, healthier dog. 🙂

  • Logan @ Mountains and Miles February 12, 2013, 10:55 am

    This is such a great idea!!! I have an Aussie/Border Collie mix who is SUPER high energy and I adopted him from someone who originally got him from the shelter. I HAVE to run with him to burn off his energy – walks just don’t do it and I can’t imagine what he would be like if he was stuck in a shelter cage all day.

  • Emily February 12, 2013, 11:38 am

    Oh my goodness, I LOVE this idea! I have 2 rescued pups who definitely need more exercise, although they aren’t the best running buddies. I learned soon after adopting the first one that tired doggies are much better behaved 😉
    Every.single.time. I see a sign for dog adoptions (at PetsMart, or when I drive past the adoption centers), I always want to stop, but am scared I would end up coming home with another dog. This is such a great way to help the shelter dogs when you already have your hands full at home!

  • Danielle February 12, 2013, 11:49 am

    This is such an awesome idea! I have a crazy, hyper pup who LOVES to run. It takes her about a mile to calm down but she always does and she always loves it!

  • Helene @healthyfrenchie February 12, 2013, 12:17 pm

    Such a wonderful idea! We got our dog from a shelter, and I always thought I would love to take shelter dogs out.
    But the closest shelter is 1 hour away and across the border! Freddie was actually in a private shelter, on a farm, surrounded by other dogs and able to run around as much as he wanted to. Which made for a happy well adjusted dog.
    And he is now my running buddy! He’s a border collie cross so he runs pretty fast! But takes regular sniffing breaks where I can catch up 😉

  • Katie @ Peace Love & Oats February 12, 2013, 12:28 pm

    What an amazing idea!!! Those poor dogs in shelters could certainly use some great time outside and I LOVE having a running buddy! I’ve tried taking my brother’s golden retriever out running but she gets soooo distracted (she’s one and a half) and I can tell she’s tired by the end of 1.5-2 miles.

  • Jessica February 12, 2013, 2:01 pm

    I actually run with The Monster Milers in Philly and LOVE IT!

    Glad you are helping to spread the word and get pups adopted – good work!

  • Janelle February 12, 2013, 2:07 pm

    What a cool idea!

  • Amber February 12, 2013, 3:00 pm

    I LOVE Abbi’s blog and the work she is doing with shelter dogs. So so so inspiring! My crazy 2-year-old boxer comes on LOTS of runs with me and loves it! I do run with her on leash but much prefer taking her into the trails where she can run off leash. Nothing tires her out like a good run!

  • Jenny February 12, 2013, 7:15 pm


    I have one shelter dog (a chug – Chihuahua/Pug mix), she and I raan all fall together and she LOVED it! We just got an Australian Shepherd for Christmas and I can’t wait to get her to the point where she can run with me!

    When I go on runs by myself, I feel really selfish because I know they are just hanging at home!

    • Sonia the Mexigarian February 13, 2013, 6:59 pm

      I run with my Aussie! He LOVES going out with me. We’ve gotten to about 7 miles together, but he usually tuckers out around 5. And then he’s bouncy when we get home and wants to play with his toys. We call it coming down from his runner’s high 🙂

  • Lauren @ Eat Like An Elephant February 12, 2013, 8:04 pm

    This is such a wonderful achievement Abbi! Having adopted a shelter dog and a brother who volunteers at our local shelter, I agree that every single bit of exercise and love these dogs can get really does help!

  • Kristin February 12, 2013, 10:33 pm

    I LOVE THIS! How can I start one of these groups?? I work at a fitness center next door to a no kill humane society! would love to start this!

  • Kandi February 13, 2013, 2:09 pm

    I love this program so much! I’m so impressed with Abbi’s dedication in getting this program started.

  • Raina February 14, 2013, 4:41 am

    So glad to see this feature on the Miles &Mutts program! Abbi is so smart and compassionate to organize this. Hope that many more shelters will incorporate such a program.

  • Kate February 14, 2013, 12:23 pm

    I think this is AMAZING. What sweet doggy faces!

    I went to the website, and it says that dogs need to run on the LEFT side of volunteers. I’ve always run (and walked) with my pooch on my RIGHT side since I though that was what I was supposed to do to keep space between my dog and other people/dogs, etc. when meeting them on sidewalks or trails. Gulp. Have I been disobeying doggy etiquette?!

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