Mutt Strut: Struttin’ for Love


Having a passion in life, multiple passions preferably,  is something that everyone should strive for.

I am always asking myself and those around me this question, “What are five things you can say you love without hesitation?” I think if you struggle to name at least three then you need to do some rearranging and prioritizing in how you are carrying out your day to day schedule. You only get one chance here and if you go through life like a zombie trudging through peanut butter, void of anything that makes you feverish with excitement or that tenderizes that tough heart you have, then what will they have to say for you after you are gone?

It wouldn’t be fair to draft this post if I didn’t provide my five so in random order five things that I am passionate about are the fall season, running, fashion, dogs, and organization. Maybe fashion and organization don’t tickle your fancy but there’s something about making a to-do list, color-coding my closet, or analyzing the latest In Style that makes me feel utterly happy and complete. Don’t judge.


When two of those passions are married, like this past weekend at the second annual Greenville Humane Society’s Mutt Strut, a 5k with your pooch, which gave me both my running fix and my puppy fix, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I could have asked for a little bit less though- maybe less dog poo.

My mom and my one-year-old viszla, Ruby, came up from Columbia to participate in the antics with me. Although Ruby is technically my parents’ dog because she lives with them in Columbia, I was the one who contacted the breeder, sorted out all of the details to pick her up in Alabama, and who finally selected the puppy with the pink pipe cleaner collar. Whenever my parents make a comment about how sweet she is or what a good dog she is, I never cease to chime in with, “I picked her out!”

Last year at the Mutt Strut, I ran without a dog and by myself. I felt a little embarrassed not to have a canine with me but it just so happened that on that exact day, after I finished the race, I drove home to Columbia to meet sweet, six week old Ruby for the first time. So now that Ruby is old enough, dogs have to be over six months and friendly, I knew I had to have her as my sidekick and running partner.


This year was for sure better than the last. I had friends to run with and the race was probably twice as big, and not to mention I’m in way better shape. There were over 1,000 dogs and over 1,500 people who signed up. Can you just imagine 1,000 dogs huddled at an entrance to Cleveland Park before the race started? It was canine mania, with mellifluous background music of dogs barking and dogs whining, tails wagging every which way. You literally saw joy everywhere you looked. And to think of all the money that was raised for the Humane Society. Running for a cause is the best way to run.


There were big dogs and little dogs and dogs in strollers (eye roll) and old dogs and rescue dogs. One 150 pound Great Dane tried to make friends with 40 pound Ruby but Ruby referred her people to the other dogs. She’s really just a person in a dog suit anyway. Or that’s how she’s treated at the Chillag household.

She was hesitant about meeting other dogs but once the race started and we were underway, she thoroughly enjoyed the running part, sniffing at dogs as we weaved our way through the park. Although Ruby preferred to run, and run fast, you are always allowed to walk. There were a few people I passed where the dogs were lying on the ground, refusing to run with their owner. Too comical. But here went Ruby and me, Ruby taking me on a run instead of the other way around. My run is her trot and my sprint is her run.



After you finished the race, you had a chance to take photos of your dog at the photo booth, which I did, and walk around to all of the vendors and collect some free swag for your dog, like shiny new tennis balls or plastic Frisbees. Ruby’s Frisbee lasted about five minutes. That girl can chew. That girl can destroy. For example..look what I woke up to at 7am on Saturday before the race. A hurricane hit my apartment.


Ruby had killed her toy that I bought her the night before and ran around the apartment with its entrails. It was OK though- Mom said she was just warming up for her big race.

I encourage everyone to do this next year. You don’t have to be a runner or even a dog owner to do so. It’s just a good time where the atmosphere is light-hearted and the fur is flying, slobber optional. It is probably one of the events I will miss the most when I leave Greenville. But who knows? I may come back to participate because it just that fantastic.



Curiosity Saved the Cat


“Love is a four-legged word,” the outdoor embellishment that hugs the newly established Greenville Humane Society, has never been a sweeter sentiment.

The Greenville Humane Society, a no-kill animal shelter, which in the past few years has relocated and renovated their premises, is a thriving sanctuary where the community can go pal around with a pup or purchase new goodies for their own jaunty companion. Decorated in a vibrant and cheery green, the humane society has been a source of refuge and reaffirmation throughout my college years. Being away from home, although only two hours, what I missed most was having my dogs constantly at my feet, hogging the couch, and cleaning up the crumbs off the floor. There is something about a dog’s comfort that is idiosyncratic, a comfort you can’t receive from humans no matter how hard you try. They can sympathize with you and be there for you without having to say anything in return. It’s a power dogs possess that baffles me. How can they be so all-knowing without saying a word? My dogs back at home in Columbia make my tears go away, literally. They like to lick them off my face. They love the salt.

This was the centric motivation for volunteering at GHS back when I was a sophomore in college- that I could bond with the animals while at the same time help them out by taking them on a spin in the artfully crafted courtyard. The love was reciprocal and I appreciated it.

I chose to work with the big dogs, the adult dogs who I felt needed a little more attention than the ever cuddly puppies. I love tail waggers, of all ages, of all sizes, but my heart seemed to be tugged towards the cages that held those mature dogs with the sad, doleful eyes. They didn’t seem to get as many visitors as the 6-week old lab mixes in the “puppy room.” But I understand. I have trouble disentangling myself from those babies as well.



Although my time as a volunteer there was brief, (the shelter moved locations, and I tired of picking the dog poo out of the indentations in my shoes), I chose to stay involved in another way. One of the neatest aspects about the shelter is that you can “foster” a puppy who is in isolation, a puppy who has just had surgery or may have kennel cough. You get to bring the dog home for a few weeks at a time and provide them with the extra TLC that they need to get better. Although there are stipulations that go along with this process, it is pretty simplified. GHS provides you with a collar and leash, crate, food and medicine and of course, the loving monster that you get to call your own for a couple of weeks. Word to the wise- buy carpet cleaner.

My roommate and I have fostered two puppies, Hazel and Michael. Micheal’s name was originally Dharma, they somehow mistook him for a girl…, but we changed it to something far more appropriate. We have a certain affinity for those who name their pets people names and we decided to join in on the fun and call him Michael. I’m confident in saying that the shy, reticent, gender-confused dog (Dharma/Michael) left our dainty apartment pampered and secure in his manhood.

FU days... 1926

“Lovely”, a dog I fell in love with.

The shelter is conveniently split into varying rooms- one for the puppies, one for the kitties, one for the big dogs, a room for those poor darlings in isolation, a shop in front that plays host to a multitude of animal accessories, and a rather fun surprise- the bonding rooms. These are little rooms where a potential owner and potential pet can spend some alone time interacting to see how well they mesh- how well two become one (90s girl reference). From my experience it is rather a task getting a dog to show their true colors when they are in an environment that breeds {pun} competition. Every dog is striving to garner the most attention, to look the cutest, to stand out, like this one did who grabbed the attention of my friend, Amy, AKA the dog whisperer.


As a result of the immense pressure these animals must face (I hope you see a hint of sarcasm), they are given single rooms where they can interact with their chosen people. So their true personalities can shine.


Aptly named.

If you are ever feeling glum, looking for a new friend to keep you company, or happen to find a box full of puppies that may have been abandoned, think about visiting Greenville Humane Society. You never know, curiosity just may save the cat.