Steinbrenner High students and Humane Society of Tampa Bay

Running for a Purpose! Steinbrenner High runners help adoptable dogs

It’s the dog days of summer, which means most teenagers sleep until noon.

Not the boys of Boss Cross! That’s the name of Steinbrenner High School’s cross-country team. These athletes are taking the “dog days of summer” literally.

Three mornings a week, several members of the Steinbrenner High Boss Cross team wake up at dawn and drive to the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. They pick up a dog, drive to Al Lopez Park, and take that dog on a run!

CJ Clark is a rising senior at Steinbrenner. He’s been doing this for the past three summers. “It’s really good for the dogs to get out. That way, when they go back to the kennels, and people are looking to adopt, they are chill in their cage, and loving on them!”


Ethan Russ just graduated from Steinbrenner and is heading to the University of Florida, but he wants to spend one last summer helping the dogs. “It’s good to know that you’re doing something that’s making a difference,” says Ethan. “We’re helping their temperament out and helping them burn off energy to hopefully get them adopted.”

The Steinbrenner teens take this job very seriously. They each travel to the Humane Society separately, because only one dog can be in a car at a time, and they have learned to properly harness the dogs and run at the pace that makes each dog comfortable. For some, that’s simply a walk, for others, it’s a full-on sprint!

“Oh yeah, they love it! You can tell,” CJ explains. “When you go to take them out of the kennels, they’re rolling around, jumping up on you, licking you … They love it!”

Steinbrenner High Boss Cross runners walking a dog

And the kids love it just as much. They usually run about a mile with the dogs, and then walk them over to get some water and stretch a bit. Then they walk them around the park to let them cool down and calm down from their exercise.

There’s no doubt Boss Cross is helping many of these dogs get adopted. In fact, they’ve created an Instagram page called @Shelterdogrunners and they’ve already celebrated their first adoption of the summer!

“That makes me feel awesome!” says CJ. “Like, in the last two years, the two dogs that I ran with that got adopted… Well, it was just the best feeling in the world!”

Steinbrenner High Boss Cross runners with a dog on a leash

Follow along with the dog days of summer by checking out @gshs_bosscross and @Shelterdogrunners on Instagram. Remember, each of the dogs the boys run with are up for adoption at @humanesocietytampa.

Photo credit: Laura Cross | Originally published in the July 2024 issue of Tampa Bay Parenting Magazine.