Happy Birthday, Cinderella! My Favorite Running Gal

Cinderella dog

My girl, Cinderella (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

My favorite four-legged running pal turned 4-years-old yesterday. Or at least, that’s what we think.

Cinderella was a stray living in the woods of Tennessee when a kind man spotted her and earned her trust over time by feeding her. Soon, she was living in his yard as a yard dog named Maggie. But after a few bad-weather nights, he decided his yard was no place for a dog and he couldn’t keep her, so he brought her to local rescue group Shelly’s Angels that works to save strays and find them homes.

Meanwhile in New York City, my husband and I were on the hunt for a dog. But after three weeks of searching shelters and rescue groups in the Northeast, we were still empty-handed.

The list of qualities we were looking for in a dog was rather specific, and, we soon discovered, the Northeast has a shortage of adoptable dogs. If you want to adopt a Pit Bull mix, you’ll find your pick of sweet ones here in NYC. But if you need a non-shedder or low-shedder like me (I’m allergic to dog dander), it becomes much harder to find that perfect fit.

On top of that we needed a dog that rarely barks (we live in a Manhattan apartment), a dog that gets along with other dogs (everyone in our families has a dog), and one that likes kids and will tolerate an endless amount of tail-pulling (we see my niece and nephew often). Phil wanted a dog large enough to take hiking and I wanted a dog small enough that I could lift it easily by myself for bath time, vet trips, or emergencies.

Cinderella, adopt dog

Cinderella’s adoption photo. (Courtesy of Shelly’s Angels)

Every time we found a dog that fit our criteria, I’d call the shelter or rescue group only to discover it had already been adopted. I put my name on lists everywhere asking to be called when a non-shedder came in and I scoured PetFinder.com, NYC’s Animal Care & Control, local shelter and rescue websites, and organizations like the Humane Society of NY and ASPCA NY for hours a day.

So we cast a wider net and started looking at dogs in the South, a region that generally has a dog overpopulation problem due to lower spay and neuter rates. I took one look at Maggie’s adoption profile on PetFinder.com and it was love.

PETS LLC, dog transport truck

The P.E.T.S. dog transport truck that Cinderella arrived on (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

I called her foster mom, Shelly, to make sure we were a good fit. Turns out it was a match made in doggie heaven. She fit every single one of our criteria.

Before long, Maggie boarded the P.E.T.S. dog transport truck and made her way from Tennessee to an hour outside of New York City, where we picked her up.

Phil and I were in a commuter parking lot with a few other families awaiting the truck. Soon, a converted horse-trailer with pictures of dogs pulled into the parking lot. I still get excited thinking about it. A man opened the door of the trailer and we could hear all the dogs barking inside their crates.

dog transport truck

Phil and Cinderella on the day we picked her up. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)

The man walked into the trailer and emerged with the cutest dog I’ve ever seen.

“Maggie!” he shouted. “Who’s here for Maggie?”

Phil and I ran forward to greet her. She gave me a lick right on the nose. And just like that, we had our girl.

Since she was a stray and we don’t know her actual date of birth, we made that day her birthday. Since the vet guessed she was about 2-years-old when we got her, we say she’s now 4-years-old.

Cinderella, Fairy Godmother

We named Cinderella after my favorite rags-to-riches princess.

The only problem was she didn’t respond to her name at all.

“Maggie!” we’d call. “Maggie!” and she didn’t even turn her head. So we decided to rename her.

Cinderella just seemed like the perfect fit with her rags to riches story: a stray in the woods who found a home in the big city with the help of a fairy dogmother named Shelly. And it didn’t hurt that it was also the name of my favorite Disney princess.

Now, Cinderella is a great runner who goes on many of my easy runs with me. She’ll knock out 3 or 4 miles without a drop of her tail.

winter run, running in snow

Cinderella and I knock out a few miles in rural Quebec. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)


She also loves to cheer me on at races.

dog, Cinderella

Cinderella greets me after a race. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)


She’s a champion hiker.

Cinderella dog, hike

Taking a rest during a hike. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)


And she’s great with my niece and nephew.


Cinderella loves kids. (Photo: RunKarlaRun.com)


Cinderella dog

Our family on our wedding day. (Photo: Lev Kuperman)

She’s the perfect dog for Phil and me in every way.

So Happy Birthday, Cinderella! Life—and running—is so much better with a dog.

If you’re thinking of getting a dog, please consider adopting from a shelter or rescue group. According to the ASPCA, 5 to 7 million dogs and cats enter the shelter system every year through no fault of their own. Approximately 3 to 4 million of them die there. The ASPCA says 60 percent of the dogs that enter shelters are euthanized.

In Tennessee, where Cinderella is from, the stats are slightly worse. According to a 2008 report from the Tennessee Offices of Research and Education Accountability, 65 percent of the animals that land in shelters there are killed.

In New York City where I live, the stats are only slightly better. In 2012, 8,000 dogs or 25 percent of the shelter population, were euthanized. My husband came home from work one day to find me crying while watching a video of animals on “doggie death row.” I desperately wanted to adopt one of NYC’s shelter dogs, but couldn’t find a match among them.

Groups like Shelly’s Angels take in dogs like Cinderella who would otherwise end up in a shelter or rescue dogs from kill shelters, and help them find homes.

One of the most common arguments I hear from people who don’t want to adopt is that they want a purebred. While Cinderella is a wire-haired one-of-a-kind, the ASPCA says that 25 percent of dogs who enter shelters are purebred, and most breeds have rescue groups who help re-home them. We were on the American Fox Terrier Rescue’s list to be matched with a dog that fit our criteria. Just one month after we adopted Cinderella, they contacted me about a dog that was a match, but we’d already found our girl. And one of my best friends who had her heart set on a French Bulldog got a Frenchie puppy through a rescue group.

So please, consider adoption. With a little patience, you just might find your Cinderella too!

If you’re not a dog-owner, but would still like to help, running for Team ASPCA is a great way to do it!

Karla Bruning is host of On The Run, New York Road Runners’ web show about running. She has completed six marathons, two triathlons and trains with the New York Harriers. Follow Karla’s “Notes From a Running Nerd” at RunKarlaRun.com, Facebook and Twitter@KBruning.

Karla Bruning


Karla Bruning is a race announcer at the TCS New York City Marathon + other major events, TV host for the New York City Triathlon + contributor to Shape, Redbook, Runner's World + other publications. She used to report for Newsweek but spent her free time squeezing in workouts. Now it's her job. She's run 8 marathons, 30 halves, 10 triathlons + open water swims. When she's not running, talking about running or writing about running, she's snuggling her baby, spoiling her dog + compulsively traveling.


04 2013

17 Comments Add Yours ↓

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  1. 1

    Happy Birthday, Cinderella!
    What a great story! If only more people would go to such great lengths to adopt a dog and provide a loving home. I don’t have a dog but we do have two cats, both adopted from local shelters.
    I hope she had a magical day :)
    Karen recently posted..Products I Love #1My Profile

  2. 3

    Hurray for pets! And hurray to you and the hubby for saving one from a shelter. Please give Cinderella a belly rub/scratch behind the ears/favorite treat for me!
    Sadye recently posted..Your body knows bestMy Profile

  3. 5

    Happy Birthday Cinderella!! What a great story and she is a cutie!
    Emily recently posted..Wish I Was Wednesday #25My Profile

  4. 7

    What a wonderful story! Both of my pets as a child were adoptees. One we rescued on its last day. My mom gave my sister and me permission to go look at dogs, but not to get one. When we found out that he was on doggie death row, I went ahead and adopted him. Then I had a fun time explaining to our mom how we now owned a dog.

    I hope to own another dog soon. I’m strongly in favor of rescuing one, rather than getting one from a breeder.

  5. Karla Bruning

    Elle, that’s an amazing story! Gosh, I would have done the same. After my husband found me crying watching doggie death row videos, he cautioned me strongly against going to any kill shelter to look at dogs, lest I come home with a Pit Bull that I’d be allergic too. So I just kept calling and checking online instead. It would be SO HARD to know you are a dog’s last chance and pass them up. I hope your mom understood!
    Karla recently posted..Happy Birthday, Cinderella! My Favorite Running GalMy Profile

  6. 9

    That’s such a great story! I’ve always wanted a dog, every Christmas I’d always ask for a puppy. I’d have one now except my apartment doesn’t allow them and Doug as an ex-paper boy has some traumatic experiences with them. But someday I will have a dog and I will definitely be trying to adopt one from a shelter, all those poor dogs! Cinderella is so lucky to have found Shelley and you guys. HAPPY BIRTHDAY CINDERELLA! :)

  7. Karla Bruning

    Thanks, Kellie! Cinderella appreciates all the birthday wishes. And we feel just as lucky to have found her. I grew up with dogs, but went 6 years without one before I got Cinderella. It’s so hard when you want one and can’t get one! Looking forward to that someday for you!
    Karla recently posted..Happy Birthday, Cinderella! My Favorite Running GalMy Profile

  8. 11

    Happy Birthday Cinderella! She is so cute, and what an appropriate name for a wonderful rags to riches story!

  9. 13

    We also have a dog from a shelter and he has been a great addition to our family. The funny thing is that when we got him he looked like a mutt, but now looks like a gorgeous chocolate lab. We have had many people ask who our breeder is!

    And now I have to do a little “mommy bragging”. Both of my boys ( ages 10 and 7) request that friends who come to their birthday parties bring donations to the animal shelter rather than gifts. They each made this decision on their own and together have raised hundreds of dollars. We are so proud of them and the shelter is very grateful.

    • Karla Bruning

      Kristi, that’s amazing! You should be proud of them. That’s an amazing thing for children to do. Funny about your dog. There are so many beautiful purebreds in shelter/rescue. 10 years ago, I adopted an 11-yr-old purebred Fox Hound from a rescue. She was GORGEOUS! But that’s also when I discovered that I’m allergic to shedding dogs (I grew up with a non-shedding Schnauzer). After she died, I decided I had to only get non-shedders from then on. Love your boys!
      Karla recently posted..Happy Birthday, Cinderella! My Favorite Running GalMy Profile

  10. 15

    As I sit here with my purring, adopted cat in my lap, my smile couldn’t be bigger. How awesome that you found the perfect dog for you :) I love that Cinderella got her happily ever after with you!
    Kristina @ Blog About Running recently posted..New Max: Squatting 140lbs!My Profile

  11. 17

    Love the photos of Relly. Happy birthday!!!!
    Elle recently posted..Running Poems for National Poetry MonthMy Profile


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