barkrunner spotlight: Charlie!!

A note from Marie: Last January, Eden Gray (from Roosevelt Island parkrun) contacted me about interviewing Charlie for the parkrunUSA newsletter. However, around the same time, there were changes in how the parkrunUSA blog was produced and the barkrunner interviews were discontinued; as a result, Charlie’s interview was not published. Reading Charlie's finished interview gave me such a happy feeling inside, so early into lockdown I contacted Adam about interviewing Lillie parkrunners. My hope was that the interviews might give a boost during a low point in our lives. Eden was gracious enough to let me use her format, and thus began the weekly Lillie parkrun spotlights.

This is the last interview in the pipeline, unless you want to be next! If so, reach out to us via email or social media (bat signal might be missed). In the meantime, here is the interview that started it all…


Hi everyone, your barkrunner correspondent Foxy here with another fantastic interview.  This time, I spoke with sweet Charlie who hails from Lillie barkrun in Michigan!

Tell us about your fab puppy self Charlie - 

My name is Charlie. I’m a black lab, and I will turn four on October 14th.  I live on an 80 acre farm in Saline, Michigan with my human parents Roger & Marie. My home parkrun is Lillie parkrun in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Do you like to run?

I don’t run these days, I walk.  Sometimes I jog a little, but not too much. In September 2018, after a trip to the U.P. (Upper Peninsula for your non Michiganders!), I started limping.  At first everyone thought that I had just overdone it and had sore muscles. Unfortunately, I was diagnosed with severe hip dysplasia in my right hip and moderate in my left.  It was a very sad time for all of us - my mom cried. I was told I could no longer run. Oh, how I loved to run and chase balls, sticks, and squirrels… I was a great retriever. Then my mom found Lillie parkrun last summer.  She was thrilled when she found out that dogs were welcome. Not all 5Ks will allow dogs – this seems silly to me. She was nervous that it might be too much for my hip, but it hasn’t been harmful. Since I have been going to our Saturday morning walks, my vet says that he has noticed that I have been building muscle and I have even lost a couple of pounds. I hardly limp anymore.  Eventually I will have to have my hips replaced, but for now, I am doing great!

Charlie 2

I recently had a total tear of my ACL. I had TPLO surgery In July and I was finally allowed to go back to Lillie Park on September 19th. I was so happy and excited to be able to join my mom and a couple of others for a 5K. I’ve lost a lot of muscle these past few weeks, but I am sure that I will be in tip top shape soon.

That is awesome Charlie!  Going to barkrun is great whether you are a runner or a walker!  So, what is your favorite thing about barkrun? 

Charlie 3

I love the people. Everyone comes up and says hello to me, and gives me a little scratch behind the ear.  There are still people who know my name, but not my mom’s - Ha! She is okay with that.

Oh, that is totally the way it goes, isn’t it?  Everyone just adores us barkrunners.  My mom is used to playing second fiddle too!  So, what do you like to do besides barkrun?

I love to take walks on our farm and at our cottage on the AuSable River in Grayling. I am fortunate, in that I am able to go to work with my humans and we walk every day. My mom says I am her personal trainer, because if she sits at the desk too long, I start whining so that she will get up, get out, and go for a walk.

I also love the water.  In the summer, we go to the great lakes and rivers.  I like to walk and splash — I don’t really like to swim.  When it is hot at Lillie Park, I usually like to stop and wade out into the pond to cool down. One time, I jumped off the middle of the bridge! I didn’t realize it was deep and I would have to swim! I haven’t tried that again, but people still ask me if I have jumped off the bridge lately.

Charlie 4

Jumping right into the deep end!  Wow!  Perhaps they need to put a warning in the barkrun announcements?  We have to warn the peeps to be careful on the boardwalk at Roosevelt Island barkrun - or else they could fall into a swamp!  Wouldn’t that be a real mess!

Jumping into a mucky swamp sounds like heaven to me!

So, do you volunteer at Lillie?

I love course set up because I get an extra lap. Tail-walker is good too.  I have the right anatomy for that - wink wink!


Definitely! Any tips for barkrunners coming to Lillie?

Stay to the right, even if the smells on the left side of the path are better, you must stay on the right.

That is super smart advice given Lillie’s three lap course!  Good call Charlie!  Okay, time for my favorite part - the lightning round!  

Best toy?  

Anything that squeaks, makes noise, or has stuffing that I can rip out, and spread all over the house!

Got any party tricks? 

I’m working on choosing which hand the treat is in.  I get a little excited and just start tapping any hand.

He he - might as well go for the gold, right? Fave spot at home? 

Anywhere within three feet of my mom, sometimes even under her feet.

Charlie 5

Most delicious treat?  Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter, Peanut Butter.  My parents have started spelling it, but I am catching on to that.

Why do they try to play us like that?  

Best way to recover after barkrun? A cold drink of water. I also carry snacks for myself, my human friends, and doggy friends, in the packs on my harness.

I need to stick by you then!  

Are you friendly with the kitties?  

Charlie 6

I love my two kitties – Sheldon and Millie.  They sometimes fight… who are we kidding? They fight a lot, and it’s my job to break them up.

We pups are the natural pack leaders.  

One last question - is there anything else you would like to say to all the peeps out there?

I love Lillie parkrun! You should stop by and visit us sometime!

I second that!  I’ve been to Lillie twice now, and the course and the people are absolutely delightful!  Just like you Charlie!  Thank you for taking the time to chat with me!  

Charlie doesn't have his own bark-code, but his stats would probably be pretty close to Marie's.