Running Marathons With Disabled Dog in a Backpack
For many years Janet Turner had been suffering with anxiety and found that although running helped to relieve it, it was not so interesting to do on her own. So she decided to take along her disabled dog.
She decided to train for a marathon and found that if she ran with her dog Moose, a rescue dog, it helped to make the running more fun and was good for her dog as well. Moose had her own emotional struggles and it was almost a full-time job to taking care of her. The effort of focusing on the dog meant that Turner did not think so much about her own anxiety. Exercise is good, really good for people and helps in many aspects, but it’s also really good for dogs, and the bond between a dog and its owner can be incredibly healing.
For seven years, Turner ran with Moose by her side. When Moose died, she was devastated and lost her sense of purpose. That is when she decided to adopt another special dog, this time with a disability so she would have a new challenge.
She started to search for a special needs dog and soon found Gordon, a miniature pinscher who only had two legs. Turner remembered first seeing the dog, who used only his front two legs while holding his back end suspended when he walked. She could not resist his cute expression and wagging tail and immediately knew that he was the dog for her.
Gordon’s story was heartbreaking
A sympathetic passerby spotted him dragging himself along the road and brought him to a shelter.
Sadly, he was shot in his right shoulder and the bullet is still lodged in his lower spine!
His right leg had to be amputated along with the toes on his left foot.
In the beginning, Gordon wouldn’t have anything to do with Turner when he first arrived at her home in February 2017. Luckily, after a few months, they managed to create an unbreakable bond.
A New Running Partner
Turner started running with her disabled dog Gordon in a backpack because even though Gordon can walk, he can’t keep it up for long, taking just 15 steps for each of Janets. So Janet decided to bring him along in a backpack.
She wanted to check on Gordon the first time she ran with him in the bag back and did so by bringing a selfie stick and filming him and she laughed when she saw that he was just enjoying the ride. “He was just chilling’,” she laughed. “He had one arm outside of the pack, which is how he runs today.”
It became a social media movement, as Turner started using the hashtag #RunningForRescues to help awareness for the plight of shelter pets and disabled dogs.
It got a lot of attention and turned into a fundraising for rescue groups and shelters. Turner and her disabled dog Gordon have run six races together, so far and more are planned. She posts the races on Facebook along with the shelter she chooses to help for each race. To date, they have raised $15,000 in 20 months for local shelters and rescues!
People have been very supportive and encouraging, taking photos and cheering them on when they run.
Another Rescue dog Named Molido
Last year, 2018, Janet Turner then decided to adopt another “special needs dog” and turned to Robbie Miller, founder of SOS Dog Rescue in California to help her find one.
There was a stray dog in Thailand, which was saved off the streets by Soi Dog Foundation. The dog’s name was “Molido” and he was paralyzed from the waist down.
Together with Melissa Zudweg Borden of The Devoted Barn in Michigan, the organization helped to bring “Molido” to Turner’s home in February 2019.
Melissa Borden drove nine hours from Michigan to pick up the dog in Washington, DC. and then drove her all the way to Turner in West Virginia!
A difficult Start
Molido was a new challenge as she was a feral dog and had never been in a house, never heard the sound of a dishwasher or a doorbell, had never seen a ceiling fan or even walked on a carpet. It was very difficult to adjust to her new life and it took hours before she even allowed Turner to pet her.
But slowly Molido got used to the new surroundings and to Turner, and today they have an inseparable bond. Molido will not even eat until Janet sits down to eat.
The awareness of shelter dogs and disabled dogs continues. Molido can’t run and is too big for a backpack, so she won’t race with Turner, but she will still come along to the events to help focus attention on shelters and special needs dogs and in order to fundraise.
To this day, Turner and Gordon continue to work to bring awareness, get more people on board, and raise funds for shelters, especially smaller ones that don’t get much visibility, including the Pleasants County Humane Society in Turner’s own neighbourhood. Turner hopes to bring more awareness to local communities and to gain additional support for local shelters and animal rescues since people are normally better at helping in their own communities.
“Special dogs” and older dogs need more help. And yes, it might require a bit more efforts from your site, but it will be given back in tenfold. But NO dogs are less worthy, just because they have challenges. They are just as lovable and often EXTREMELY devoted to you.
Find out more about SOS Dog Rescue here, The Devoted Barn here, and Pleasants County Humane Society here.
You can follow Turner, Gordon, and Molido on Facebook or on Instagram.