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Grand Rapids, MI 49506 US
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Bring Out The Hero In Your Dog

by GR Dog Adventures guest blogger, Susan TeBos

Storm Buddy Medals2War dogs, rescue dogs, guide and service dogs- dogs have a long history as heroes. Take Cairo, a Belgian Malinois, used by the Navy Seals in Operation Neptune Spear or Chips the most decorated hero dog of WWII. But how does your dog become a hero?  Storm and Stanley, two Australian Shepherds, recently became heroes when they and their owners signed up for the Virtual IronDog Team, a charity event that raises money to help families adopt special needs orphans and sibling groups from around the world.  Rebecca Cruttenden, Storm’s mom, knows what it’s like.  She and her husband, Tom, adopted a sibling group of three and received a grant to help defer the financial cost. In return, Rebecca started fundraising for Team Orphans five years ago to raise money and pay it forward to other families in need.

It began with one mom and two dogs and they did the unthinkable. They trained for the 140.6 mile Ironman, an extreme triathlon for elite athletes that includes a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run. A former fan of chips and cookies, Rebecca was far from an extreme athlete when she began.  She couldn’t even run 5 miles and didn’t have a bike. Determined, she not only learned to run marathons and bike hundreds of miles, but she recruited others to exercise along with her, dogs included.  “That’s what a team is all about”, says Rebecca. “I can’t do this alone.”  Rebecca has finished 5 ironman competitions, raising $10,000- $20,000 each year for Team Orphans. She also began recruiting runners, bikers, and dog walkers to join her team. While Rebecca trains for five months, her Virtual Ironman team all over the country trains too, only they choose their own exercise and log their miles every week based on their personal goals. The Vitual IronDog is a 140.6 mile challenge or the DoubleDog is a 280 mile challenge.  All of the team members, people and dogs, have from April 1- September 11 to finish their miles. “Many dogs already walk or run 6-12 miles each week depending on their owners. These same dogs can now walk or run to help orphans find forever families,” says Rebecca.

Team Orphans just celebrated its 5th anniversary, having raised almost $150,000 dollars to help bring home children like Clara, who adores her new family, especially her dogs, Sammy and Bax. These kids wouldn’t have homes without heroes like Storm and Stanley and you.

Get your dog on the hero roll:

  1. Choose Your Challenge –Choose the IronDog 140.6 mile distance (5-6 miles per week) or the DoubleDog 280 mile distance (10-12 miles per week). You have from April 1 – September 30 to walk or run your miles.
  2. Commit- Sign up at and make a donation to get on the team.
  3. Log Your Miles- Log your dog’s miles every week until he completes his challenge. The great part is that you’ll get the exercise too!
  4. Celebrate Your Victory- When your dog has completed his hero challenge, Rebecca will send him a Victory Medal and a delicious bone. And best of all, you and your dog will be featured in her DogBlog of Champions!

Your dog doesn’t have to go off to war to be a hero. He can be a home grown hero, digging in the dirt, chasing squirrels and walking to save lives.

Susan TeBos is a writer and the adoptive mom of three beautiful children and two friendly short haired collies, Griffen and Riley. She is the author of Before You Were Mine: Discovering Your Adopted Child’s Life Story. She writes for important causes that make a difference.

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