Fido Says “Just Do It” – Sacramento’s 17th Annual Doggie Dash

The author and Allie

By Mary Beth Barber

My two gals are too old to partake this year at the Doggie Dash in William Land Park, but here’s what newcomers should expect on Saturday June 5: DOGS. EVERYWHERE. And no parking spots near the start line unless you arrive before dawn.

The SPCA’s annual “Doggie Dash”  event has become the “in” place to go for cool canines the first weekend in June. Runners who have ever been in a fun run and thought, “Wow, it would be fun to have Fido with me for this,” this is your chance.

Hundreds of pups and their companions (because really, for this race, the dog is the Master) either run or walk through beautiful Land Park. The first year the girls and I partook, Allie (Golden Retriever) and Scout (Border Collie) and I opted for the 5K (3.1 miles) walk race.

And I was surprised by how the dogs reacted. Scout, despite her instinct and breeding as a herding dog, normally hates crowds, canine or human. But she totally clued in that this was HER day and nudged on the leash at the starting line. She darted around people and dogs for about the first mile or so and definitely forced a fast walk pace for Allie and me in her desire to find the open space. (With hundreds of dogs and humans involved, finding the opening wasn’t going to be easy until the pack spaced out a bit, around halfway.) Scout, at the halfway mark with her tongue hanging, gave me a look like “aren’t we done yet?”

Allie and Scout

Allie, on the other hand, was all about the competition. As the pack thinned out about a third of the way through she got it – this was a RACE, someone’s going to WIN. She took but a few seconds at the various water-stations set up (for both humans and dogs), and while Scout and I were happy in the shade, she pulled us back out into the crowd. Her determination wasn’t a real surprise – Allie was, after all, a retired mountain-rescue dog who once rode in helicopters and on her owner’s shoulders as he snowboarded down the mountain. She was fearless, and this was small potatoes for her – but she was determined to WIN. Allie pretty much dragged Scout and I across the finish line after passing dozens of others, both human and dog, who had the same face that Scout did. (We didn’t win, though. We started off too far behind.)

As for me – former marathon runner and often soccer player – I found the 5K walk to be more of a challenge than I had expected, probably because of Allie’s forced pace. And I got sunburned on what I thought had been a mild day in the wee hours of the morning, so humans: dress in layers, and wear plenty of sun block. There’s plenty of action at the finish line too, so the three of us hung out at the wading pools (where dogs are supposed to drink, but Allie chose instead to sit), watched the Frisbee experts (Scout picked up a few hints and befriended a woman who wanted to take her home), and generally relaxed in the shade before heading home.

Hints From a Former Participant:

  • Wear sunblock
  • Drink water before and during the race (both dogs and humans)
  • Bring doggie-pick-up bags (although your pet may be so excited he/she won’t go until afterwards)
  • Expect a walk to the start-line, and watch out for the golf course. (And no parking at the golf course either)
  • Be realistic about your choice of race. If you don’t normally jog with your dog, opt for the walk version, or at least stick to the back of the pack.
  • Be considerate of your canine. There’s a lot happening and many, MANY dogs, which can be stressful to your pet. Water and fun is more important than being first, or doing a longer race.
  • The event will be a madhouse, so pre-register on June 2nd, 3rd & 4th at Petco Arden Store, 10-6pm
  • Dog isn’t so great on leash? Maybe this event isn’t for him or her. And definitely don’t bring more than one dog per human unless they have been specially trained. The race organizers do allow two very well behaved dogs like Allie and Scout – but these gals had been through years of behavioral training. If your dogs aren’t ready to behave solo, don’t think they will at the Doggie Dash.
  • Don’t walk with a puppy (less than six months). Too stressful, and they’re bound to get overheated.
  • Keep your dog on leash, and a short one at that. Allie and Scout were trained with a Halti “head-leader” (the leash that goes over the nose that some may mistake for a muzzle) which gives the owner more control rather than yanking at the poor dog’s neck.
  • Don’t make the race the first time for a Halti or anything else “different” – your dog will be dealing with the newness of the race and all those other dogs.
  • Watch your dog’s health for the race, especially if he/she has spent most of the rainy season indoors. Asphalt can be rough on paws, and dogs can easily become dehydrated, especially with the excitement of the Dash. Stop, drink, and drink some more.
  • Check out the FAQ from the SPCA’s Doggie Dash page.

Want to Join GOTG’s Dogtourage?

Girls on the Grid has put together a team for the 5k walk portion

  • WHEN: Saturday, June 5 at 9:15am
  • WHERE: William Land Park
  • JOIN: To join our team, visit
  • PASSWORD: gotgdog
  • MEETING SPOT: Metro Espresso, 2104 11th Avenue (we’ll walk over to the start point at 8:45am so don’t be late!)
  • RSVP: No RSVP necessary (when you join our team, we’ll get a notice). Please invite friends, family and colleagues to join!

You might also like


  1. Emily Smith says

    My dog, Charlie, and I participate in this event every year and raise money for the SPCA. You are right – it’s such a fun day and the perfect way to help homeless pets. Thanks for shedding (oh, no pun intended) some light on Doggy Dash for your readers.

  2. Chantel Elder says

    I attand every year! And every year it gets bigger! This is the first year I will have to miss it 🙁

Leave A Reply

Your email address will not be published.