Running Color Me Rad Race with a Service Dog

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Last year, when I participated in the Color Me Rad race in Reno, NV, I didn’t have Rally yet, and was still a few months from adopting him. I completed the race without a dog leashed to my hip, and had such a blast that this year, when the race came once again to Reno I was excited to run again. 10702240_759762854081766_5028325353195193516_n

Running with Rally in the Color Me Rad race was a breeze. First, I contacted the folks via their webpage to ensure that Rally would be welcome. I explained that he was a medical alert service dog, and added that he would be wearing his vest and ID card at the time of the race. The Color Me Rad folks were amazing, and promptly welcomed us to the race.

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I then got Rally ready to run; although it was only a 5K, with his bad hip and arthritis, I didn’t want to cause Rally more discomfort than necessary, so I decided to walk the distance. In addition, aware that it would be a hot day and the asphalt would be sizzling, I had Rally wear his booties. The color dye gets everywhere and even though it washes out of fabric with relative ease, I used Rally’s light, mesh vest instead of his heavy-duty, multi-layered every day one. Lastly, I set out our usual leash which clips around my waist, leaving my hands free.

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I knew that the race would be very crowded and that there would be a ton of people stomping, running, throwing dye into the air and shouting. It’s very important that your dog be unruffled by loud noises, feet slamming down by next to him, or colored powder being dumped onto his head. Children also will want to run up unexpectedly from behind and say hi, so your service dog should be completely calm and well mannered. Just be aware of this.

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On the day of the race I got Rally all dressed in his booties, light, mesh vest and leash. In the spirit of the occasion, I also added a tutu to Rally’s uniform. Before we left I made sure he drank water, relieved himself and ate a good breakfast.

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We walked the 5K with two good friends, Alex and Morgan, who were lifesavers throughout the race, keeping an eye on Rally and making sure that he wasn’t being stepped on and that all four of his boots were firmly strapped to his paws. Rally, in his tutu and vest, drew many grins and questions, and we completed the race feeling happy and satisfied. Walking home, with a very pink and yellow and blue dog at my side, I couldn’t wait until next year when we could complete the Color Me Rad race again.

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Now, Rally is back to his usual white and brown colors. It took two washes (once on the lawn with cupfuls of water and then again in my bathtub with shampoo and generous scrubbing) to get most of the dye from his fur. He still has some faintly pink spots on his shoulder and flank, but I don’t mind. I still have his tutu, which is currently folded in my closet and I think I’ll use it for Halloween. (: So many possibilities!

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