Carroll County Times
Carroll County News

Walk Carroll goes to the dogs: Health initiative expanding to include more children, families and pets

Caitlin Cross's 7-month old dog Boopy whined and wagged her tail. The Border collie Australian cattle dog mix seemed anxious to meet with other dogs who were arriving with their owners to the Morgan Run Natural Environmental Area on Saturday, July 9. They were there to participate in a dog walk event sponsored by Walk Carroll, an initiative of the Partnership for a Healthier Carroll County.

Cross, a community health improvement area specialist with the Partnership and organizer of the dog walk waited with a clipboard to register walkers as they arrived. She said that 16 people had originally signed up for the dog walk, but at the last minute it was moved from Bennett Cerf Park in Westminster to Morgan Run, just off Md. 97 between Sykesville and Westminster. Because of the move, only four people turned out to hike the trail.


"This is our first dog walk," Cross said. "We were unaware that there is a membership fee that came along with Bennett Cerf's dog park. One thing Walk Carroll prides itself on is that we host no cost or low cost programs. We want our events to be accessible to all."

Courtney Andrews, 14, held onto a leash with her 7-year old Border terrier mix Cara on the other end.


"We take her on walks a lot," Courtney said of Cara. "We came because we just want to have fun."

Her mother, Kelly Dempsey, said she is always on the lookout for interesting, fun, active things they can do and having Cara along was a bonus.

"And it's free," Dempsey said with a smile.

While Michelle Noel registered with Cross, Elana Noel got their golden retriever Maggie out of the car. Maggie seemed to smile at everyone who walked by, her tail waving like a fan in church on a hot summer day.

"She's got a lot of energy," Elana said of the 2-year old golden retriever. "She has to get it all out and we figured this is the best place. With the other dogs here we figured she could make more friends while we are out too. We just want to have a good time and let her run,"

Elana said Michelle had told her about the event after seeing a post on Facebook. Michelle thought it was a good opportunity to socialize Maggie even more.

"We wanted to get her integrated with other dogs," Michelle said. "She has a pit bull sibling and my mom has a little Shitzu but she hasn't been around other dogs. We wanted to get her out to experience that. It is all about the dogs having fun."

According to Cross, Walk Carroll was created three years ago with help from Carroll Hospital and the Health Department to help tackle diabetes and obesity, a few of the health indicators the group is focusing on. With over 400 walks under their belt in just three years, Cross said Walk Carroll is expanding, with walks to include more kid- family- and dog-oriented events.


'I think people enjoy being able to bring their families out to things that involve their animals. We've even had people walk with their dogs in strollers before," she said of past walks.

Cross gave out free cold bottled water to walkers and free long sleeve Walk Carroll shirts while Boopy circled her legs, wagging so hard that the pup's body swayed with the motion of her tail.

"It is a beautiful day to walk, it's beautiful here, it is free and she's really excited," Cross said of her own dog. "This is good for her for socialization so she knows how to act around other people and dogs."

The group of walkers and pets returned in the late morning and Cross said she was pleased with the walk and the day, despite extreme heat and a low turnout.

"We walked a total of 2.83 miles and 7,075 steps. We spent about an hour and a half getting to know each other and the pups seemed to really enjoy it. We saw many horseback riders on the trail and encountered mud and water," she said noting that the dogs liked the mud and water a lot more than the humans.

According to their web site at, "Walk Carroll is a long-term walking and exercise program designed to inspire anyone who lives, works, or plays in Carroll County to engage in regular physical activity."


To participate, anyone can track their physical activity with the aim of reaching the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recommended goal of 150 minutes or more each week. Walk Carroll has a list of free walking events and walking groups throughout Carroll County. Many events include free health information, giveaways, raffles, healthy snacks, activities for kids and more.

"You work all week and on the weekend you want to spend time together," Cross said. "When you join a walk you can bring everyone. It's not like you have to leave your pet at home alone. We want to get this started and move it forward together."

Cross spoke of the benefits of owning a pet and walking together to keep both pet and owner healthy and active.

"Several studies have shown that dog owners get more exercise, have better cardiovascular health and tend to be more social," Cross said. "According to a study performed by the National Institute of Health more than 2,000 adult dog owners who regularly walked their dogs were more physically active and less likely to be obese than those who didn't own or walk a dog. This trend can be seen in the older generation as well. Older dog walkers tend to have greater mobility inside their home and continue to stay sociable with their peers.'

But it is not just about cardiovascular health and being more social, Cross said. It is also a way to encourage good mental health.

"Dog owners who regularly participate in walking or playing with their pet have decreased signs of depression, mood disorders and anxiety, decreased hypertension and stress levels," she said. "The moral of the story — grab your fuzzy friend and get active."


Walk Carroll options

Walk Carroll's website,, lists the following regular walking groups within the county. Each walk is 1 to 3 miles long.

New Windsor

When: Walk with the Mayor every other Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Town Hall, 211 High St., New Windsor



North Carroll

When: Walks Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at 8 a.m.

Where: Either Leister Park (4134 Black Rock Road) or Cape Horn Park (Cape Horn Road, Manchester)

Contact: Renee Deiaco,


When: Wednesday and Friday at 9:30 a.m.


Where: Roberts Mill Park, 4501 Stumptown Road, Taneytown

Contact: Marge Barnes,


Carroll County Breaking News

Carroll County Breaking News

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When big news breaks, be the first to know.

When: Saturdays at 9 a.m.

Where: Carrolltowne Elementary School, 6542 Ridge Road, Sykesville

Contact: Caitlin Cross, 410-871-7648



When: Sundays at 8:30 a.m. and/or Thursdays at 6:30 p.m.

Where: TriSport Junction, 7568 Main St., Sykesville

Contact: Caitlin Cross, 410-871-7648