If you’re a dog owner, you’re probably familiar with that look — you know, that not-so-happy, “When are you gonna be home again?” look that crosses your pet’s eyes as you’re about to leave for work or head out to see friends. Or even worse, it seems, when you’re leaving for a run…without them.
Eve Wrest, a Grand Rapids runner and longtime dog owner, is well acquainted with The Look. She’s also an expert at helping replace dogs’ doldrums with sheer joy through, what else, running.
“When you take them for a run, and you do it regularly, that vacant, depressed stare they have isn’t there anymore,” says Eve, who founded GR Dog Adventures, which provides dog walking, running and hiking. “They’re calm, they can sleep. They’re just happier.”
Eve, who grew up in the Detroit area, started GR Dog Adventures in 2013. The business has really picked up in the past year and a half as she turned what had started as a part-time job into a more full-time endeavor given her three kids, ages 13, 11, 8 were in school full time.
“I combined the things I love the most — running and dogs,” she says. “I really wanted something that was a big part of the community. To me, that’s the most fun part of the business — getting to know the shelters and the rescues and the local businesses.”
GR Dog Adventures has donated gift baskets and gift certificates to fundraiser events as well as worked the events.
“We’ve offered free sessions to people who adopt, two of our runners are volunteer dog walkers at the Humane Society, and between all of us on the GRDA team, we’ve adopted 15 dogs,” she says.
Eve and her team also are helping with an upcoming race, the K9K race which supports police officer Andrew Elliott Rusticus who died at age 29, leaving a wife and two young kids behind. “We’re just beginning to work with them to see how we can help, but I think we’ll be sponsoring the race and some of our runners will run with their own dogs or ‘borrow’ a dog from a shelter,” she says.
GR Dog Adventures, which specializes in high-energy exercise for dogs, works with about 25 to 30 dogs on a regular schedule.
“We’ll talk with the client and see what the needs are for their dogs,” Eve says. “Then we come up with a fitness program for their dogs. Some dogs need to lose weight, and we’ve had a lot of success with that. We have quite a few dogs with anxiety, depression, aggression issues — they’re on meds or they’re daycare dropouts because they had incidents there.”
Just as it does for humans, regular exercise can work wonders with dogs.
“Almost immediately, within a couple of runs, owners are really happy with how their dogs are acting differently,” she says. “A lot of the older dogs, they’ll do shorter runs and fast walks, and they’ll have less joint pain.”
The canine clients do need to be full grown to be on a serious running program, she says. “We might do a run-walk combo for the younger ones a few times a week.”
“There are certain breeds that are made for running and can run all day,” she adds. “The average dog can probably run 15 to 20 miles a week. Some breeds (i.e. Border Collies, Rhodesian Ridgebacks, German Short-haired Pointers), when in top condition, can easily run 15-20 miles in a given day, but shouldn’t do that regularly. Our GRDA running sessions typically cover between 2.5 and 7 miles with no problem.”
“We go to their house — the owners usually are gone to work — we leash them up, play with them a little bit first and then go out for a run. It’s neat. They’re always excited to go,” she adds.
Eve runs with clients’ dogs five days a week. She also has several part-time athlete-workers who are avid runners and dog lovers who assist with canine walking, running and hiking.
“Two days a week I’m running quite a bit — 10 to 13 miles,” she says. “Our runner who logs the most miles with a four-legged partner is Jenny – she does 16-mile days. One of the guys, Michael, runs 6.5 minute miles with his client’s pair of Dobermans. I have seven runners with regular schedules and a couple of backups.”
Eve says the business could always use more runners to help exercise the pups.
“It’s fun — it’s good money for part-time work,” she says. “On one hand, it’s easy. It also can be exhausting. Like on a winter day, you’re putting the layers on …it can be grueling somedays.”
GR Dog Adventures’ approach to canine fitness:
Dogs love to run! They were made for adventure! Just because you’re living a busy professional life, doesn’t mean your dog can’t have a great life, right alongside you.
Your pup may be a muscular, canine athlete, just waiting for a running partner. Maybe you have a show dog or a sporting dog needing to maintain an elite fitness level for competition. Many of you have pups that are soft, leisure-loving canine couch potatoes needing a consistent partner to become healthier, happier versions of themselves.
Whatever your dog’s fitness level is now, we will work with you to design a fun program that’s just right for your best friend. A strong heart, healthy bones and joints, lower anxiety/depression and weight management are all key to helping your dog live a long, adventurous and happy life.
Eve, her triathlete husband Brian, and their three children live in Grand Rapids with their three dogs, all rescues: Jada, a 3-year-old pointer mix; Eddie, a 14-year-old border collie; and Moguls, a 15-year-old Jack Russell beagle mix. Eve is looking forward to running her favorite Michigan race, the Fifth Third Riverbank Run, this May.
Grand Rapids Dog Adventures offers dog walking starting at $19, with runs starting at $24. Special deals are available for dog owners/neighbors who wish to have their pets run, walk or hike together, so long as they are sociable. “We can walk three and run two at the same time,” Eve says. Learn more about Grand Rapids Dog Adventures here.