Tuesday, February 28, 2017: 7:28 am
Stories & news

Santa's Rein-dog

Bloomington pup keeps inspiration rolling

Chris Kohler and Sierra Nevada Kohler are running buddies. During Christmas season the last few years they’ve been easy to spot around Bloomington—Chris in his Santa hat, and Sierra running beside him wearing reindeer bells and antlers.

They showed up again this year for the Turkey Trots Thanksgiving morning at Bloomington Bagel Co., as they have since the early morning run began seven years ago. They started out at the end of the pack—Chris and his wife, Sherry Rouse, and their daughter, Ruby, along with Sierra, an 8-year-old white German Shepherd. They didn’t finish the race; going the entire 5K would have been too much for Sierra, who was trying out her new set of wheels that allow her to continue going on walks, if not long runs.

Sierra has been diagnosed with degenerative myelopathy. Rouse explains: “That is an immune system problem that causes her spinal chord to destroy itself (laymen’s terms!). It is not a breed-specific disease. It can also be detected in a young pup by a simple and inexpensive blood test.”

Two-wheel carts like the one Sierra now has can help dogs with the disease remain active longer and enhance their quality of life.

Besides being in all the Turkey Trots, Sierra and Chris have run Hoosiers Outrun Cancer together seven times. Twice they have run the Mutt Strut around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to raise money and awareness for Indy’s Humane Society.

Kohler said Sierra has long been his inspiration to run.

“It means absolutely everything,” he said when asked about her companionship. “It gives me purpose to go out and run every weekend and I desperately need that. Long ago, I figured out that I have to keep running fun. Sierra makes that happen.”

He also offered this thought from his running partner: “Sierra would like to add that she has always enjoyed running around town at Christmas time with her official reindeer bells and antlers on ... bringing smiles and joy to the people and children of Bloomington.

“Ho! Ho! Ho!”

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   Saturday, Mar 11, 2017
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