Archive for the ‘Dogs’ Category

Chief, Draco, Nitro, Raquel, and Zorro

So it’s been a while since I’ve posted about any Animal House dogs. Since I last worked with Mickey, Animal House has been turning over a lot of adoptions so I really haven’t spent a lot of time running with any one particular dog. Over the past few months Angel, Rocky, Kendal, Benny, Xara, Buzz, Benji, Happy, and Frieda have all been adopted.

But here are a few great dogs who are still stuck at the shelter. I’ve spent some time with each of these dogs and really think they’d make great companions with the right owner.

Chief (Photo from Animal House)

Chief has been at the shelter since last July. I’ve been out running with him a couple times and he learns very quickly and really wants to work with you. He gets very attached to people and has some separation anxiety issues so he’d probably be best with someone who can spend more time at home with him. His only other issue is purely cosmetic. You can’t tell from the photos but half of his hair is missing. Evidently it’s a genetic condition, blue hair alopecia, so other than regular brushing and feeding him high quality food, there isn’t anything you can do about it. Anyone willing to take home the funny looking dog that no one else wants is going to end up with an incredibly loyal companion.

Draco is one of my all time favorites. Animal House brought him in from some other shelter that wasn’t feeding their dogs enough and when I first met him, he was all skin and bones. He’s super friendly and loves treats and attention so he was very easy to work with. He loves to run and the first time I took him out on the trails, he just fell in naturally to bound along at my side. He’s in a foster home now and is doing extremely well learning basic commands. He’s even learning how to run nicely next to a bike. The only problem is his name. I guess the volunteers were on a Harry Potter streak assigning names and he got stuck with the mean kid’s name. It really doesn’t suit his personality. His foster mom has been calling him Drake which is a bit better.

Skinny Draco happy to be out on his first run at Reservoir Ridge.

Draco looking much better at his foster home. (Photo from his foster mom, Abby)

Nitro (Photo from Animal House)

Nitro is another one who could use a better name. Kim asked me to take him out for the first time just a couple days after I ran the Antelope Island 100k. My legs were still pretty wobbly from the race and with a name like Nitro, I expected to get dragged all over Reservoir Ridge. But Nitro turned out to be a pretty good dog. We had a bumpy start …mostly because it didn’t seem like he’d had any practice on leash and didn’t quite know how to behave. But once we got things sorted out, he was really easy to run with. He has a lot of energy and has plenty of moments when he gets super excited and occasionally spins around in circles. But he responds really well to both positive and negative voice commands. Just tell him NO when he’s in mid-jump and he’ll actually stop himself and settle down ….my own dogs won’t even do that once they get wound up! I think he’ll do extremely well if anyone takes the time to pay attention to him and give him consistent directions. Nitro is living with a foster right now and is doing great. He gets along with another dog in the house and chases the cats around, but not maliciously. For a lab mix, he’s on the small side so I think he’d be a great dog to take anywhere traveling around running, hiking, and camping.

Raquel has a ton of energy but is really very easy to run with. She’s very responsive and loves attention and treats so she’s super easy to train. I honestly have no idea why she’s still at the shelter. Other than her high energy, she has a pretty impressive vertical leap …maybe she’d make a great frisbee dog? She’ll be a lot of fun for anyone who stays active and runs and hikes regularly.


Zorro really shoudn’t be on this list of dogs that have been difficult to adopt out. He’s hands down the best behaved dog that I’ve run with yet. He walks and runs on a slack leash at your hip and pays attention to voice commands. He’ll follow behind you on narrow single track and if you tell him to go, he’ll run out in front as fast as you want to go. But he doesn’t pull and will come right back to your hip as soon as you tell him slow down. (I would love to try skijoring with him!) He knows how to sit and he is very patient and gentle taking treats. He hasn’t quite mastered “down” yet but he will gladly roll over for a tummy rub. For a Malamute mix, he’s really quite calm and gentle …definitely not your typical alpha dog. But despite his nearly perfect behavior and temperament, it’ll probably take some effort to find him the perfect home just because he’s a Malamute and it’ll take a lot of work to take care of him. He’ll need a lot of exercise, he’ll shed a ton, he’ll be miserable in our summer heat, and he sings. But anyone who thinks these are all lame excuses to pass up a perfectly good dog is going to love this guy.


If anyone is interested in adopting any of these dogs, please contact Animal House. The Animal House staff will have a lot more detailed information about each dog. Nitro and Draco are currently living in foster homes and Chief has been in and out of fosters homes and is currently back at the shelter. Some have even worked with volunteer trainers.

I would be happy to answer any questions as well. And anyone interested in meeting a dog to can always come out and join our Fort Collins Trail Runners social at 6pm every Tuesday at Reservoir Ridge. I always bring a dog from Animal House to the run.


It’s been a while since I’ve posted any new info for Animal House but I’ve been running with Mickey consistently once or twice each week for the past month. He did spend some time in a foster home in April but has been in the shelter since the beginning of May. I don’t think he has been doing well in the cramped kennels so I’d like to try to help find him a home or at least a temporary foster home as soon as possible.

Mickey is a bit of a problem case so I’m sure that the shelter managers will take extra care in matching him up with the right home. Anyone interested can contact Animal House for much more detailed information than I can provide. Evidently Mickey has had some aggression issues living in a home environment. I’ve personally never seen any behavior from him that would cause me to have any worries so I really don’t know what his exact issues might be. My best guess is that it is from fear and anxiety – he is definitely a bit shy around strangers and I’ve seen him get very skittish a couple times. I don’t think he does well being left alone for very long so I think an ideal home would be with someone who can spend a lot of time with him. And he would probably do well with another dog to keep him company. Every time I take him back to the shelter after a run, he cries and barks when I put him back in his kennel. So I don’t think he’d enjoy living with someone who leaves to work 12 hours a day. The neighbors probably won’t appreciate that either.

Personally I think Mickey is a fantastic dog and whatever his past behavior issues may have been, I think he would be perfectly fine with the right owner and home environment. Every time I’ve taken him out, he gets a little overexcited at first and will try to jump up on you (but who wouldn’t after being cooped up in a small kennel for days) but he really isn’t that hard to control. After a couple minutes, he’ll calm down and he is incredibly mellow and sweet. He knows all of the basic commands and is very smart and eager to learn. He even does great off leash. Of all the dogs I’ve worked with so far, Mickey is definitely one of the easiest to handle.

For the past month, I’ve been taking him out to our Tuesday evening social runs at Reservoir Ridge and I’ve taken him out for a few solo runs. Initially he was a bit shy and reserved around new people at the social runs but the last couple weeks, he’s really warmed up to people and will walk right up to strangers for attention. On this week’s run, we had about 20 runners and 2 other dogs and there were a lot of other people on the trail. Bikers past us and there were small children running around at the trail head. None of these distractions bothered Mickey at all and he was calm and well behaved the entire time.

For running, I don’t think Mickey is ever going to set any speed or distance records. He really enjoys going out for runs but he isn’t incredibly fast and 3-4 miles is usually enough to tire him out. I’m sure he could get in better shape with more frequent exercise but I wouldn’t count on winning the Fast and Furriest 5k or taking him out on ultra distance long runs. I think he’d really enjoy just getting out for a few mellow runs and hikes on a regular basis. I actually think this is a good quality. It’s a really big commitment to own a dog that can and wants to run 10+ miles every day.

If anyone is interested in adopting or fostering Mickey, please contact Animal House. And feel free to contact me with any questions or come out to Reservoir Ridge for our social run every Tuesday at 6pm to meet Mickey in person outside of the shelter.

InSanitas and The Fast and The Furriest

Wow, this has been a big week.

I went down to Boulder on Friday for the annual InSanitas birthday run and successfully ran my age +2 for good measure to rack up over 17,000ft of climbing. This run sounds absolutely horrible repeating the same 3 mile loop and 1300ft climb from sunrise to sunset. But the small loop made it easy for a lot of people to come out and join in for a lap or two any time throughout the day. At the end of my day, Chris and Kari where still going strong and Eric and Ning were just getting started with a fresh group planning to stay out all night. So even after spending over 14 hours on my feet, I actually felt a little disappointed leaving the party early.

Early morning view of Boulder from the Sanitas summit.

Me, Kari, Tressa, Chris, and Denise at the summit.

Hodges' home made endurance formula.

In between crazy Hardrock training runs, I found time for 2 Animal House runs. Trish joined me for the Tuesday FCTR social run at Reservoir Ridge and was great in the car, on leash, and with the group. She has a lot of energy but runs well, learns quickly, and is really easy to handle.

On Saturday, I made it out to the Fast and the Furriest 5k. Our local Towers queen of the hill, Jenn Malmberg, directs this race to raise money for the Companion Care Fund. So this was a great opportunity to support a good cause, help one of our runners, and I couldn’t pass up a chance to get out with a dog from Animal House. After 40 miles on Sanitas, I wasn’t in any condition to run very fast but figured this would be a great opportunity to just jog with the crowd and show off Misty.

Misty ready to run her first 5k.

Misty had been doing so well on leash that I decided not to use a gentle leader or harness for the race. Right up to the start of the race, Misty was still behaving extremely well walking through the crowds of runners and dogs with me so I really didn’t think I needed to warm up to try to tire her out. But as soon as the race started, Misty took off like Rocket and decided that my social pace just wasn’t good enough. I had a tough time keeping my balance trying to hold her back for the first mile and had to make a few stops with her to re-adjust my grip on her leash (by the way, she did stop and sit nicely before tearing off at a sprint again). And with all the excitement from the start, Misty had to stop take a short bathroom break.  So our race was off to a rough start with a 12:21 split for the first mile. After that, Misty settled down and fell into pace with me but we were so far behind in the pack that we had to dodge dozens of walk/joggers with feisty yorkies and weiner dogs on flexi-leashes for the next mile. But we made it through mile two in a bit more respectable 7:57 and finally found enough space to run the last mile in 6:58. Despite the rocky start to the run, Misty and I had a great time. Jenn hosted a fantastic event and it was fun to see so many of our local trail runners out. Sam finished 3rd overall but took the first dog award. Alex and Shadow ran a new Colorado PR. And Cherilyn, Celeste, and Amanda all beat Nick to the finish after his borrowed dog, Chester, decided to duck out of his collar and run off in the opposite direction at the start.

After the 5k, I had just enough time to take Baxter and Sheba over to Round Mountain for a short jog halfway up the hill and back. Today I headed back to Round Mountain again for some repeats to finish off a 100 mile week with 34,378 vertical feet. …now I just need to figure out how to do that in about 30 hours above 11,000ft and I’ll be all set to go for Hardrock.


Since Rocket got adopted so quickly, I’ve been rotating my runs around with several dogs at Animal House. Most are in various stages of training and evaluation but this last week I had a chance to take Misty out for a run.

Misty is already fairly well behaved and sits very well.

I was pleasantly surprised with how well Misty behaved on our run. I usually expect that any young shelter dog will have some sort of issues to work with. But as far as I can tell, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with Misty. There really isn’t anything that she even needs to improve on. It really makes me wonder how such great dogs end up in shelters.

She definitely shows a lot of curiosity towards people, other dogs, and birds …especially birds. But it’s mostly a playful curiosity rather than an intense fixation. She responds to voice commands and is very easy to control and redirect with just a slight tug on her leash. She definitely has a lot of puppy left in her so she needs someone to consistently set an example to teach her proper manners. But it shouldn’t be too difficult. It only took a few minutes for her to figure out that she was supposed to run with me on my right side. I didn’t have to make any effort to “train” her. I just got her positioned where I wanted her to run, she eventually followed my lead, and off we went.

Misty is a great little runner.

We stopped midway through our run to take a break and play and she got a wild burst of the puppy zooms and ran circles around me like the tasmanian devil. But as soon as it was time to move on, she settled down and trotted along right beside me.

Zoom, zoom, zoom...

Time out.

She’s fairly small for a shepherd mix so she’s very agile and athletic but still easy to manage. She’d make a great all around companion to travel around running, hiking, and camping. As long as Misty is still at the shelter, I’d love to keep running with her but there are other dogs who really need the extra exercise, socialization, and training. Misty is ready to go home and live with a family right now so I really doubt she’ll be available much longer.

Relaxing after a good run.

Contact Animal House for more info about Misty and feel free to email me with any questions.

Running with Rocket

I went out on my first volunteer run for Animal House ( and met Rocket today. Until he finds a permanent home, I plan to take Rocket out running at least once or twice per week.

My dogs are the reason that I originally started running and over the past few years, I’ve found that regular exercise has significantly improved their behavior and temperament. But Baxter and Sheba are getting a bit too old to keep up with me every day and only join me for a few short, easy recovery jogs around our local natural areas. So volunteering for the Animal House shelter seemed like a great way to put some of my running time to good use. The shelter dogs are all well taken care of and get to go out on regular walks. But for many dogs, a simple walk just isn’t enough exercise. Getting them out for a real run a couple times per week should help them cope with the stress of living at the shelter. And with more handling and exposure to the outside world, I hope to help improve their manners and behavior and ultimately make it easier to find them a permanent home.

Rocket is an awesome running dog. He’s a medium sized Greyhound/Collie mix and is built for serious running – large enough to go the distance but thin and not too heavy to (hopefully) avoid problems with joins and pads. And he has a medium coat which should be ideal for running year round in our cold winters and hot summers. He’s a gorgeous brown brindle with a very sweet, friendly personality.

I let Rocket take the lead long enough to get a full photo here.

We ran 7.5 miles today around the ponds behind the shelter and out and back on the Poudre bike path. As his name suggests, he took off like a rocket from the start. And I won’t lie, my right arm is a bit tired. But after a couple miles he finally settled into pace to run with me and by the end of the run he was running right next to me or slightly behind me on a slack leash. He’ll need an owner who can offer both exercise and firm leadership but he learns quickly and was very easy to work with. He does get distracted easily by bikers, hikers, dogs, cars, or good looking sticks. But a quick reminder and a tug on the leash usually gets him back on track. If that fails, he is very good at sitting. Halfway through the run, he was extremely excited about some horses on the other side of the fence so we stopped for a short break and I had him sit facing away from the horses. After a short sitting break and scratch behind the ear, he completely lost interest in the horses and we continued on our run.

Rocket is very good at sitting.

As far as I could tell, there really isn’t anything wrong with Rocket. He needs some regular exercise to reduce his energy and anxiety levels and just like any other dog, he’ll need some consistent leadership to learn proper manners. But he didn’t have any noticeable issues that I’m used to seeing from almost every rescue I’ve owned in the past. The shelter says that his isn’t good with children but we ran past several children on the bike path without any reaction.

After a couple miles Rocket ran right beside me on a slack leash. He pays attention very well and is easy to work with.

At the end of our run, Rocket was slightly tired but I suspect he could have gone out and run another 10 miles without any problem. We ran at a brisk pace along the bike path and a 7-8min mile was a pretty comfortable cruise for him. Hopefully Rocket will find a permanent home very soon. But if he’s still at the shelter next month, I’d love to race him for a PR at the Fast and the Furriest 5k.

If anyone wants to meet Rocket, I plan on bringing him out to our next Tuesday social run at Reservoir Ridge. Otherwise you can stop in or contact Animal House for more info. His adoption profile is online here: