First-ever Mutt Strut set for April 19 in Genesee County Park

Jan 12, 2020

Joshua Finn says he always wanted a blond female running partner and he wound up with Charlotte, a young golden retriever full of energy.

They run together a lot, as much as six miles on a weekend run.

"If she sees me grab my headphones and leash, she goes nuts," Finn said.

On one of his runs, Finn, who also runs in 5Ks, said he thought, "wouldn't it be cool to run in a 5K with dogs."

He shared his idea with Adrienne Penders and she, well, ran with it.

Penders, owner of Matted Mutts and involved with rescues and Volunteers for Animals for more than 15 years, has spent dozens of hours and thousands of dollars of her own money to bring together the "Mutt Strut," a 5K walk in the Genesee County Park & Forest at 9 a.m. on Sunday, April 19. (She also was helped by her boyfriend Jonathan Wright, who helped promotional material, including building the promotional website).

To bring the event together, there was insurance to secure, waivers to sign, release forms, and other paperwork and numerous meetings involved in getting approval from county officials.

All in the name of creating a family-friendly, and dog-friendly event where people can enjoy a relaxing walk in one of Genesee County's most scenic areas.

Since it's the first-ever large-scale dog walk/run event in the park, park officials wanted to keep it manageable so it's limited to 100 participants.

"We want it to be a success not only for the dogs but for the park so we can keep doing it year after year after year," Penders said.

To help with the success, dog trainer Tori Ganino, owner of Calling All Dogs, will be on hand to help spot dogs that might be not be suitable for the event. The event is for dogs who are comfortable around other dogs and children.

"Obviously, everybody thinks their dog is wonderful but sometimes you get into a close encounter with 50 dogs and 100 kids running around dogs, some dogs might act a little differently, so she’s there basically to either explain to somebody how to control their dog or advise that the dog shouldn't attend the event because it’s not going to be safe," Penders said.

Dogs and their handlers can sign up at mattedmutts.com/muttstrut/. Registration is $30 per person or $80 for a family of four. All proceeds benefit Volunteers for Animals.

The canines get a doggie gift bag and there will be food for participants afterward.

By Howard B. Owens, The Batavian