Hundreds of dogs and their owners walked, ran and wagged their way around the Tempe Arts Park Sunday during the Walk.Run.Wag event, which promoted an active lifestyle and supported local animal charities.
Participants had the option to walk or run either a 5K or a one-mile race around the park.
The event hosted an expo of local animal charities and animal products. Speakers included Petco trainers and Tempe Police officers discussed dog handling and K-9 training.
Volunteer director Judy Stowers said the event was designed to give people and their dogs the opportunity to be active together.
“There aren’t actually very many events where people are allowed to bring their dogs, so it’s a good opportunity for people to be healthy but also to have their pets healthy,” Stowers said.
Event directors Paul Huddle and Heather Fuhr, who have a history in Ironman events, partnered with the Petco Foundation in organizing the event. Purina and other pet product companies sponsored the event.
Huddle said the event came from his own love of dogs and his experience in directing Ironman events.
“There’s a huge fitness and fighting obesity component to the whole genesis of this idea,” Huddle said. “We don’t expect people to be super athletes, but we’d love to see people just simply get off the couch and get their dogs out.”
The run took place in San Diego last month and will also be taking place in San Antonio in April.
Huddle said he hopes to expand to other states next year.
Fuhr said the funds from entry fees and the expo will go to local charities.
“The main focus of (the run) is getting people healthy and active and then raising some money for the local animal shelters and animal charities,” Fuhr said. “It’s a great way to raise money for local hospitals (and) local animal shelters.”
JP Borrego, 34, was the first 5K runner to cross the finish line with his 2-year-old dog in tow.
“I feel like I’m always very active and I like to participate with my dog,” Borrego said. “She’s very active as well, so we like to do things together.”
He said he and his dog have been together since she was born.
“Ever since she was a year old, she’s been running,” Borrego said. “She likes to do a lot of trail runs.”
Kinesiology senior Ashley Kelty said she decided to do the run with her 11-year-old dog Lucy after finding out a couple of her friends would be participating.
“(Lucy) stays with my parents because I live (in Tempe),” Kelty said. “But she loves it when she gets to come out and have fun with me.”
Fuhr said the event promotes a relationship between animals and their owners that can’t be found anywhere else.
“There’s nothing like that companionship between a dog or a pet and an owner,” Fuhr said. “It’s unconditional love.”
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