In the spirit of Veteran’s Day, a time when we honor those who have served, Just Add Rover delved into a unique celebration that combines patriotism and the love for canines. Dr. Tom Walsh of PrimePet Rehabilitation in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, talks to us about his inaugural Patriotic Pups 5K. The event not only acknowledges the valiant efforts of working dogs and service dogs in the community but also supports the Myrtle Beach Police Foundation K9 unit. Dr. Walsh shares the drive behind this heartwarming endeavor and how it intertwines with his mission to enhance the bond between pets and their owners through rehabilitation. (Editor's Note: The interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.)
Honoring Furry Veterans: The Patriotic Pups 5K event, set on Veteran’s Day, is a salute to the four-legged heroes who ensure public safety daily, shedding light on their often-unnoticed dedication.
Community and Healing: Dr. Walsh discusses how PrimePet’s philosophy of whole-animal healing extends to supporting service animals and their handlers, emphasizing the importance of community recognition and respect.
Adoption Awareness: "Borrow a Boxer" invites race participants to engage with adoptable dogs, providing a unique way to support animal rescue efforts while enjoying the event.
Q: What inspired the creation of the Patriotic Pups 5K, and how does it support the working and service dogs in the community?
A: I wanted to create a race to honor and celebrate the working dogs, service dogs, and military dogs in our community, as well as their handlers. Usually, the public only hears about a service dog or police dog when one is retiring or has had an accident in the line of duty. The reality is these are unsung heroes that work tirelessly every day for our safety and protection, and their sacrifice is astounding. This year is our first race, and it's more of a fun run than a competitive race because it is untimed. The proceeds will go to the Myrtle Beach Police Foundation's K9 unit, to help with their training, daily expenses, and any special equipment they need.
Q: How does PrimePet Rehabilitation Therapy's mission intertwine with the objectives of the Patriotic Pups 5K?
A: At PrimePet Rehab, we believe in healing and helping the whole animal. Each treatment session is customized for the individual animal, and we spend a great deal of time communicating our findings to the owners. By doing this, we strengthen the bond between the owners and the animals, in addition to healing the animal. The Patriotic Pups 5K is an extension of that philosophy, reaching out to our working dog friends. As I mentioned earlier, these dogs are often invisible heroes that don't receive much attention, yet they can still get injured on the job or suffer from chronic pain. Raising public awareness and support for these animals strengthens our community and deepens the respect and admiration we have for these working dogs and their handlers. With Veterans Day, we also encourage all veterans of military and public service to come out so we can honor them as well.
Q: Safety is paramount in any public event involving animals. What measures do you implement to ensure the well-being of both the canine and human participants?
A: Safety is paramount, and we encourage anyone bringing their dog to the event to be respectful and considerate of other dogs and owners. The event is held at Market Common, where there's a large lake in the center with a walking path around it. The 5K is untimed and takes place along this path — three laps around the lake. We'll also have a 1K dog fun run at 8:30 am, starting at the big bridge and circling back to the finish line. The path provides ample space for dogs and people to pass each other safely.
Q: For attendees looking to make the most of their experience, what tips or advice would you offer to those participating in the 5K or 1K Dog Run/Walk?
A: Come out to support the working dogs, service dogs, and their handlers. It's going to be a fun morning filled with a celebratory atmosphere and no pressure. We're partnering with Carolina Boxer Rescue, and they will have dogs available for adoption. Participants can 'Borrow a Boxer' for the race, even if they don't bring their own dog. Every participant will receive a medal!
About Dr. Tom Walsh: Dr. Tom Walsh is the founder of PrimePet Rehabilitation Therapy, specializing exclusively in the physical therapy and rehabilitation of companion animals. After over a decade in general veterinary practice, the call to focus on rehabilitation became clear, particularly during a period of reflection prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic. With the opening of PrimePet's dedicated facility in 2022, he now employs an array of advanced therapeutic techniques, including laser therapy, to aid in the healing process for pets, demonstrating a commitment to innovative care and the enhancement of the pet-owner relationship.
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