High Schoolers Let Lonely Shelter Dog Join Their Cross-Country Team

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Jasper had so much energy, he still wanted to play after going running! Photo: Humane Society of Tampa Bay

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Energetic Jasper, 3, used to be a resident at the Humane Society of Tampa Bay shelter. When he arrived, trainer Glen Hatchell, who worked there, was worried he might not do well in a kennel. Hatchell tried to get Jasper properly exercised by adding him to a doggie playgroup, but it still wasn’t enough.

“His days had become repetitive for him, and I could tell that Jasper needed more enrichment, because his play was a little rougher than the other dogs, and he seemed to have a shorter temper at times,” Hatchell told The Dodo.

Then, someone made a great suggestion.

“One of our volunteers has a daughter who’s in a local high school,” Hatchell said. “They cooked up the whole idea of having some of the dogs run with the cross-country track team. I jumped right on it because I thought it was a great thing for Jasper.”

And so a group of runners from Steinbrenner High School began picking Jasper up at the shelter to take him running at Al Lopez Park, a spring training and minor league baseball park in Tampa. Although the pup had never jogged long distance, he was great at keeping up!

Jasper and his “team.” Photo: Humane Society of Tampa Bay

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The first day he ran with them, he did about 3 to 3 and a half miles,” Hatchell said. “And the next day, about 2 and a half miles.”

Incredibly, Jasper would still have energy left post-run!

“He’s ready to play,” Hatchell said. “He’s a little bit more relaxed, but he’s not ready to lie down on the bed and chill out for a while.”

Running with the team did wonders for him while at the shelter, but it also helped him find his forever home. Last month, Jasper was adopted by one of the kids on the team.

Jasper, post adoption. Photo: Humane Society of Tampa Bay

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“[The student is now] at the University of Florida in Gainesville,” Hatchell said. “And he’s living in a house with all the runners in this school … so he’ll stay with the boys that he’s already come to know over the last few weeks.”

Jasper’s life at the shelter has ended but there are many dogs left who still need homes. Check out their adoption page to see if you can find a new running (or couch-loafing) buddy!

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