Hosted by AmericanTrails.org
Mark Bonham, Missouri State University, and intern with Ozark Greenways
A new user group has emerged on the trails in Springfield Missouri. They run in packs and while their bark is worse than their bite, they know what they want and can smell a good trail. No Bones about it, the dogs like the Springfield trail system. However, as a special interest group they have cranked it up a notch for the local trail building organization Ozark Greenways. The Springfield Greene County Park Board recently opened a fantastic new state of the art off-leash dog park which adjoins a completed section of a developing greenway.
On the new 1,100-foot wood chip surfaced trail
We thought we had the community dog interest covered. It turns out the dog park was great for the “well to do dogs”. However, this created some resentment and local orphan dogs started barking in comments for fair treatment. Their demands resulted in the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri contacting Ozark Greenways as to the best way to build a trail for the forgotten dogs. “Really, you want us to build a dog trail specifically for the dogs”? Got any design specifications?
We all know that including walking in your exercise routine will reduce stress, tone muscles, improve bone density, and lower cholesterol. It turns out walking benefits have similar impacts for dogs. Additionally dogs enjoy the same sights, sounds and far superior to their humans the smells of the great outdoors.
Therefore it only took about 20-minutes for Mary Cooper, a board member of the SMHS, to convince Ozark Greenways executive Terry Whaley that the health and happiness of human volunteers and dogs could each be greatly enhanced by creating a dog walking exercise trail for volunteers to exercise the Humane Society guests. With the dogs being calmer thru the benefits of a more active exercise the humane society also hopes that adoption rate might increase.
To get things started the Ozark Greenways survey team thinking like a dog sniffed out an initial loop trail thru a vine clogged, densely wooded, storm ravaged section of the humane society property just a few steps outside their new shelter facility. A combination of volunteers from the humane society, Ozark Greenways and at last count four different Eagle Scouts teamed up and chipped away to achieved the initial clearing, grubbing, and removal of brush to carve out the current 1,100-foot wood chipped trail. While still in its first phase of development these society dogs can now run over the lawn, thru the woods and down a trail reducing a bit of stress while lodging in unfamiliar territory, in hopes of landing a new home.
The dog trail provides endless interest for
its canine patrons
The Humane Society is considering the start up of a “Walk a hound lose a pound” program in September 2011. With this new trail they are urging people of all ages to join as volunteers and assist in a little walking exercise with the dogs. Not only is the trail more interesting for the dogs with smells, sights and sounds and far more stimulating than the previous walking area which was the limited front lawn boarding the parking lot, but it’s also more interesting and comforting for the volunteers walking these dogs as well.
Initial benefits of course are for the dogs and their volunteer walking partners. However, this project has also created an increased awareness of the work the humane society to members of the community who have become engaged in the trail building project. It has also created a new partnership with Ozark Greenway and the SMHS which hold great possibilities for promoting trails, dog adoptions and active lifestyles for residents. As O.A. Battista the Canadian-American author said, “A dog is one of the remaining reasons why some people can be persuaded to go for a walk.” We say, take a walk, with a dog, on a trail and everyone is happy and healthy.
Having a dog leads to great responsibility. Taking care of the dog means giving it food, water, attention, and exercise to keep man’s best friend in tip top shape. Some people cannot keep up with these tasks on a regular basis because of work, school, or financial reasons. Lucky for them the Humane Society of Southwest Missouri in Springfield, MO is going to be starting a new program in September 2011, “Walk a hound lose a pound”. With this new trail they are urging people of all ages to come and try it out. The spin is that they will be offered a lovable, playful dog to share their walk with.
Some of the benefits include: less stress, Loss of weight, increase in healthy habits, and building of strong muscles. The people walking the dogs get some benefits to. Walking a dog can lead to a lower risk of high blood pressure, a trimmer waistline and fewer chronic conditions (ArthritisToday.org).