Detroit’s River Dogs: Weekly dog walking builds lasting bonds

Detroit’s River Dogs: Weekly dog walking builds lasting bonds

Eula Johnson kept her nose so deep in her journals she didn’t know how splendidly the Detroit riverfront had transformed until she adopted a six-week-old German shepherd that likes to take walks.

“Cassius loves to walk with other dogs, feel the air on his coat and sniff all the smells,” says Johnson, a lawyer at a Detroit law firm. She often participates in Canine to Five Detroit’s pack walks on Sunday mornings, which attract up to 50 dog owners each week.

Headed by an expert walk leader, participants either head west to Joe Louis Arena or take a more ambitious walk east through the William G. Milliken State Park or along the Dequindre Cut. The Dequindre Cut follows the former rail line from Jefferson to Gratiot.

Canine to Five Detroit, a company offering doggie day care, dog boarding, grooming and dog supplies, works in partnership with the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy to provide the free pack walks.

“All the dogs are leashed, which is one nice thing about the walk,” says Liz Blondy, owner of Canine to Five Detroit. “Walks are headed by a representative trained in dog body language. If a dog is aggressive, it doesn’t mean you should leave him home. We’d ask that you walk toward the back of the pack and help your dog learn how to socialize.”


Local rescue organizations, trainers and animal experts, are frequently invited to join the pack walks, offer valuable expertise and insight to pet owners.

Blondy, a dog owner and dog entrepreneur, says dogs are four-legged fitness trainers for individuals and families.

“You are forced to leave your house twice a day, no matter what,” she says. “Depressed people often come out of their funk when they get out of the house and experience nature.”

For Johnson, the pack walk is a way to bond with Cassius. She adopted her dog two years ago from a neighbor whose pooch had puppies.

“With Cassius, I’m taking walks on Belle Isle, walks around Wayne State University campus and the Riverfront,” she says. “We have fun with each other.”

Walking works.

Editor’s Note: Dog owners meet up every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at Rivard Plaza. To learn more visit:

Meet the new family fitness trainer

There may well be no better way to jump start family fitness levels than with the family dog.

Studies show that one four-legged, tail-wagging fur ball can make a big difference in household exercise and overall happiness levels:

• Dog walkers generally walk about an hour longer than their non-dog walking counterparts. -The Journal of Physical Activity and Health (2010)
• Children in a house with a dog are 50 percent more likely to meet recommended daily physical activity levels. -The University of Western Australia (2012)
• Dogs help us meet, mingle and make friends more easily. -Warwick University (2000)


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