Fifth Annual Dog Jog

Fifth annual Dog Jog held at Grange Fairgrounds

by Sam Stitzer for

CENTRE HALL — The Fifth annual Dog Jog 5K Run/Walk was held at the Grange Fairgrounds, in Centre Hall on April 27.

The event is a fundraiser for Pets Come First, a non-profit, all volunteer organization which runs the animal shelter in Potter Township. This event is different from the usual running events, since it allows the participating runners to take their dogs with them on the run. There was also a 1.5K walk for those who are a bit smaller, older, or slower — dogs or people. Prizes from local businesses and organizations were awarded to the top male and female finishers in each category.

According to event organizers, nearly 200 people were registered to participate. The event has grown larger each year since its inception, and Saturday’s good weather attracted a large crowd of both participants and spectators. Disc jockey Tor Michaels was on hand to provide music for the crowd to enjoy. He took song requests from the audience, and the first requested song was, of course, “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

By mid-morning, after registration was completed, the runners — both dog and human — lined up on the pavement at the edge of the Grange Fair midway. Deb Warner of Pets Come First signaled and they were off and running. The course made a five kilometer (3.1 miles) serpentine loop around the southern end of the fairgrounds, returning to the finish line near the Grange exhibit buildings. David Eggler of the Nittany Valley Running Club handled the timing duty, recording each runner’s time.

In about 20 minutes, runners began crossing the finish line. The first human/dog team across the line was Paul Fritzsche and his dog, Bella. One at a time, or in small groups, the others followed, with the human runners often more exhausted than the dogs.

The runners — human and canine — ran the gamut of age and size. Among the youngest runners was 10-year-old Morgan Stover of Spring Mills. She ran with one of the smallest dogs in the event, her tiny Yorkshire terrier Nikki, finishing the race in about 32 minutes. Running with Stover were her two grandmothers and two aunts, making the race a true family outing.

Both dogs and people helped themselves to water and snacks after the run.

Around 11 a.m., the 1.5K (just under a mile) walk began, on the fair midway and followed a loop around the grounds. This gave the smaller and slower dogs a way to get in on the fun.

In addition to the running events, an exhibit building was filled with displays by animal-themed organizations and businesses. Several animal rescue groups were present with displays, and representatives informing the public of their many services and activities.

Many vendors of pet-related merchandise and foods were present, and a silent auction of items generously donated by local businesses was conducted to raise funds as well.