TAMPA, Fla. — On summer and spring break, cross-country runners at Steinbrener High School in Lutz, Florida, get new training partners — rescue dogs from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.
It's an idea that was sparked by Coach Bob Ennis a few years ago that's been a hit with man and furry friend alike.
Zach Harrigan, the senior captain on the cross-country team, was recently paired with Scooby at the Humane Society for a pre-dawn spring break run.
They're new running buddies, if only for a short, sweet time.
"I just love being out here in the morning," said Zach, who's been doing this morning ritual for the past four years. "I'm definitely a dog person."
After pairing up, Zach and several of his teammates drive their new friends a short distance to Tampa's Al Lopez Park for a light run, some fun and much-needed bonding for everybody.
"This is definitely a good team exercise," Zach said. "We've all learned to sacrifice something, whether our time or our car. I mean, I've had my car thrown up in. But we also see first-hand the impact, the adoptions."
The runners pair up with dogs on weekdays over breaks and during the summer. Their morning time together is short — often less than an hour — but it means a lot to everyone.
"It teaches us responsibility," said Jacob, a sophomore. "Helps them, helps us."
Not long ago Zach adopted a puppy from the shelter. Now, he wants to see his new friend Scooby find a home.
"It's hard bringing them back," Zach said.
To learn more about adopting an animal from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, click here.
This story was originally published by Sean Daly on WFTS in Tampa, Florida.