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Paws on Pavement

The Red Lizard Running Club teams up with shelter dogs for Saturday runs in Lake Oswego
by: Vern Uyetake, Jenny Pyle of West Linn, left, and Sherry Sullivan of Portland head down Old River Road with their canine running partners for the day.

For many people, it takes some extra motivation to get out and go for a run. But the Red Lizard Running Club has found a way to fix that problem, at least once a month.

The group meets at Foot Traffic and Petco in downtown Lake Oswego to work out each Saturday but, on the second Saturday of each month, some guests join the 15 to 40 runners.

Each month for two years, the Multnomah County Animal Shelter brings in around half a dozen dogs who could use the exercise and pair them up with the Red Lizards for the morning.

The dogs range in size, breed and athletic ability as well.

During one run, Angela Lindbo's dog decided it had had enough exercise and simply sat down midway through the 5-mile course.

'We had to get the truck to come out and pick her up because she was about 30 pounds,' Lindbo said with a laugh.

Lindbo is a member of the Red Lizards and her husband Torrey is the president of the club. Angela Lindbo is also the foster coordinator for the Multnomah County Animal Shelter.

But the outing does a world of good for the dogs, many of whom are exhausted after the trek and others who are ready to go another five miles.

'Most of them start out sprinting and pulling before they realize 'Oh, I'm in this for the long haul,'' Angela Lindbo said.

Recently, smaller dogs have been brought in to accompany the walkers who show up.

The purpose of bringing the dogs out in the open is twofold.

First, it gets the dogs out of their cages at the shelter, which rarely occurs during normal days other than short bathroom walks.

Second, it makes the dogs and the shelter visible in the community and helps the dogs' chances of being adopted.

Torrey Lindbo estimates that 20 to 30 of the dogs that have joined the Red Lizards have been adopted either by the runners themselves or by curious onlookers.

After the morning run, the group hangs out with the dogs until noon, which gives them a chance to see their companion in a more mellow environment as opposed to how the dogs are when they first get out of truck.

'There's all of this barking, it's like a mini-Iditarod,' Angela Lindbo said, referring to the annual sled dog race in Alaska.

The Lake Oswego running course starts at Petco, goes through George Rogers Park and winds along Old River Road.

'It's a great social gathering. Noah's Bagels donates bagels and the people at Petco are great, putting out water for the dogs. It's great because you can see the potential in the dogs when they're not behind bars and sleeping on concrete,' Torrey Lindbo said.

Each of the dogs that are brought in are given a behavioral analysis beforehand to make sure that they can get along with other dogs and will be friendly around strangers.

And the Saturday that the dogs are brought in generally brings a good turn-out for the Red Lizards, no matter what the weather is like.

'It's been a big success and I think everyone really enjoys it,' Torrey Lindbo said.

The Red Lizard Running Club has about 250 members, many from Lake Oswego and West Linn, and runs in various locations every day of the week.

Anyone who is interested in joining the club for a run is welcome, even if they are not a member. For more information and for a schedule of running times and locations, visit www.redlizardrunning.com.

The Multnomah County Animal Shelter is located at 1700 W. Columbia River Hwy. in Troutdale.