After rave reviews from both humans and dogs, last spring’s successful Barks & Rec program is back, but with a twist. This fall runners and their canine companions are hitting the trails. Participants will meet weekly at Elmer W. Oliver Nature Park for guided hikes through the natural trails, accompanied by some happy furry friends eager to have a morning off from the shelter.
Unlike the spring class, there is no multi-week commitment for the fall class. Each week’s class is registered individually so guests can come one week or every week, whatever works best for their schedule. There is also no athletic training component; the hikes are still a great workout, but easier to modify or pace based on ability. Instead these sessions are more about experiencing the natural beauty of the park with a canine companion who doesn’t otherwise get a chance to get outside.
The Parks & Recreation program was an unqualified success. The class, a couch-to-5k running program that paired athletes with dogs from the Mansfield Animal Care & Control shelter, booked up within one day and was featured in numerous media reports. A possible repeat this fall was met with enthusiasm by participants and animal shelter supporters.
“We were thrilled with the response to the spring Barks & Rec class,” said Animal Care & Control Manager Lori Strittmatter. “The dogs looked forward to their runs all week, and the extra human interaction made a huge difference in adoption rates. We’re hopeful this program has the same effect, and we can’t wait to see how the dogs react to Oliver Nature Park; it’s just such a unique place and an experience most of them have never had.”
The fall Barks & Rec sessions will run for six weeks starting Sept. 15, with hikes starting at 8 a.m. or 9 a.m. The registration fee is $9 per class, with a $2 discount for signing up more than three days before the class starts. Residency and/or MAC membership is not required. Registration is limited to ages 14Y and up but families are invited to participate together. One dog will be provided to each registered participant, however family members can take turns sharing the leash and enjoying the company of a furry friend. Spaces are limited due to logistics and dogs available and are expected to fill quickly. Online registration is available here.
The couch-to-5k running program will return in January 2019, with the 2nd annual Barks & Rec 5k at the conclusion of that training class next spring.
For more on the program, contact the Mansfield Activities Center at (817) 728-3680. For other ways you can get involved with helping the shelter, contact Mansfield Animal Care & Control at (817) 276-4799.