Fast and Furriest Is Much More Than a Timed 5K Run & 1M Walk With Your Dog

Most Dogs Are Natural Networkers 

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Your neighborhood is filled with dog lovers. In the United States, nearly half of all households, 44 percent, include at least one dog according to the American Pet Products Association. Not only are dogs great companions, they help connect their owners to their communities and people who enjoy being outdoors with their pets.

Just visit a park to see what I mean. Pets are natural networkers introducing their owners to a variety of possibilities. FF-group-336x223I recall a dog park visit where I met a woman and her pet visiting for the first time. Hank was met with wagging tails. Hank’s owner had just moved from Atlanta. Other pet parents learned Hank came into her life in college and has been a constant companion through moves, break-ups and celebrations including the job promotion to Saint Louis. Hank helps her meet people, network and explore their new neighborhood.

You see, Hank loves to exercise with his owner. I mean serious running. Hank is a Whippet, a superb athlete as well as a gentle companion. Several of us made sure Hank can stretch his legs in an upcoming event to help homeless pets. I want to make sure you know about it too whether you have a pet or not! ffThe 9th Annual Fast and the Furriest 5K Run and 1-Mile Walk will be Sunday, April 23, 2017 at Hollywood Casino in Maryland Heights. The run is the Saint Louis original dog-owner professionally-timed race. Others with or without pets will take part in the walk at a leisurely pace or activities on the grounds. This is an event not only for athletes, but the entire family! There will be food trucks, vendors in addition to the activities. This major fundraiser for homeless pets in the Saint Louis area is sponsored by Purina.

Great FFYou can take a gamble on the 1 mile Pooch Poker Walk, which offers a more leisurely pace with the added fun of creating your best possible poker hand along the way. Both the 5K and 1M come complete with a race t-shirt and the best goody bag in town. There are special awards for fastest runners in each age group and for the fastest overall male and female dogs. But you don’t have to have a dog to get in on the fun.

FF%Collecting pledges for your participation with your pooch is another way to involve your friends and family while increasing your impact to help pets. A generous donor is matching all the pledges at the Fast and Furriest to raise double the amount for homeless pets at the APA Adoption Center. The top fundraiser will lead the race and gets a grand prize

It is easy to get registered and be a part of this fun mission to help pets. This is the link to learn more, register and invite pledges or visit the APA’s website at apamo.org.

Don’t miss this great opportunity to spend some quality time with your pup, get some exercise, help homeless pets and meet great people who love dogs. I’ll be there and I hope you will too!

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Volunteer Trips Make a Difference Abroad and at Home

Your next getaway could change more than your view.  More travelers are finding a way to help others while exploring new communities and cultures through volunteer vacations.

 

Growing in popularity, volunteer vacations can strengthen family bonds while you volunteer to help others. On family volunteer vacations parents and grandparents have an opportunity to spend meaningful time with youngsters, with the opportunity to pass along values. Younger family members develop compassion for others and also master new hands-on skills.

Volunteer vacations can strengthen family bonds.

Volunteer vacations can strengthen family bonds.

 

Travel adventures for a cause can involve some tropical paradises or breath taking scenery, but require more planning than your typical vacation advises travel expert and author of Voluntourist, Ken Budd: “Taking a volunteer trip isn’t like spontaneously going to the beach. It requires a lot of homework and research. You want to find organizations that are meeting a legitimate need, and projects that need volunteer labor; not projects created to give volunteers something to do.”

 

Finding a great volunteer vacation opportunity starts with being realistic about your desire and abilities for the adventure. Taking a good look at what you’d like to get out of the trip will decrease your chances of disappointment. Think about what areas and subjects are important to you: Do you want to study climate change in Alaska or preserve the campground where you vacationed as a child?  Budd suggests you ask questions about a volunteer vacation adventure before packing your bags. 

 

·        What is the volunteer work?

 

·        Who will benefit?

 

·        Who runs the volunteer programs?

 

·        Where does the money from program fees go?

 

·        May I contact previous volunteers about their experiences?

 

Many volunteer vacation organizations will ask you to submit to a background check, particularly if you’re working with children. Others will want you to provide references or to write an essay on why you want to volunteer. When organizations don’t take those steps that should be a warning sign.

 Not all volunteer opportunities abroad are legitimate explains Budd:  Over the last year or so, the media has reported on a terrible situation in Cambodia, where orphanages basically trap kids in squalor to attract donors and volunteers.  So seriously scrutinize the organizations,” he advises.

There are many volunteer vacation opportunities close to home.  For example, volunteer conservation trips. These popular vacations combine camping in national or state parks with service projects to help beautify the land and make the parks more safe and accessible.

 This year, there are more volunteer vacation offerings than ever before, from building trails in the Grand Canyon to clearing debris washed up on remote Alaskan beaches following the 2011 tsunami in Japan.

Volunteer conservation trips may include activities like trail work, clearing fallen trees and branches, picking up litter and debris, removing invasive plants, maintaining gardens, and sprucing up fences and buildings.

 Volunteer vacationers often get access to parts of parks and forests not open to the public. And they always have free time to enjoy the beautiful parks they’re helping.

A lot of organizations offer multi-generational volunteer opportunities perfect for families who or large groups who want to get away and contribute together.  Budd says many volunteer vacation organizations find experienced, older volunteers to be a great asset:

“I’ve found that most volunteer organizations value people who have a lot of life experience. Older volunteers tend to be patient and they won’t get rattled when something goes wrong.”

The author has trekked and volunteered around the world and recalls many great experiences with older volunteer vacationers: “I encountered a lot of people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s when I was volunteering. In China, we had about 11 volunteers and only three were under the age of 50. The majority were in their 60s: they taught English to university students, which was really quite helpful. The students knew English, but they needed practice speaking it.”

Budd recalls another senior volunteer who became a world traveler while helping others: “I was in Costa Rica, I met an 80-year-old woman who volunteered there for three months. She was a widower, and it was only the second time in her life that she’d been outside of the United States. She enjoyed it so much that she wound up volunteering for three months in Thailand!”

There are many volunteer vacation options near home and abroad.

There are many volunteer vacation options near home and abroad.