|PAWS IN THE PARK FESTIVAL DRAWS 'RUFF' CROWD
by Stacy Wiedmaier
Tails wagged, tongues panted and dog clothes were modeled at the 2nd annual Paws in the Park event held Saturday at English Landing Park in Parkville.
The Friends of Parkville Animal Shelter (FOPAS) hosted the dog walk festival and fundraiser, including sponsors and vendor booths for dogs and humans, contests, raffles and agility performances.
FOPAS is a non-profit animal rescue group formed in 1999 that finds homes for stray cats and dogs. Although they were previously located in Parkville’s depot, they now operate from a temporary facility on Hwy. 9.
The goal of their largest fundraiser was to provide general operating funds and find land on which to construct a new shelter.
The event's chairperson for the second year, Connie Wuebben, said she was overwhelmed with the public’s huge response and support.
“We have doubled our amount of sponsors to 52 and just the pre-registration numbers reached 350; outweighing last year’s number of those involved total,” said Wuebben.
She said a group of 30 collected pledges for the walk, instead of others who paid $15 to pre-register or $20 the day of the event. Those participating in the fun received a t-shirt and doggie bag filled with coupons, treats and toys. Every type of vendor was present, from Best Buy and veterinary hospitals, to mobile groomers and pet photographers.
Celebrity emcees included local announcer Bill Grigsby and Parkville mayor Kathy Dusenbery, who cut the ribbon to begin the one-mile walk wrapping throughout the park’s trails.
Dogs of every breed, color, size and shape drug their owner through the trail, trying to catch up to other dogs. Many were dressed in festive attire, whether it was their Paws in the Park event t-shirt or a homemade bandana.
Many in the park brought their lawn chairs and found a good vantage point near the river to watch the action, whether they owned a dog or not. Others let their family walk their pet while they enjoyed the scenery.
“My daughter’s walking our Airedale, Annie, while I check out the procession,” said Platte County resident Carol Joy. “We came last year and had a great time seeing all the different dogs and just had to come back. We looked forward to this; it’s such a good cause. Hopefully we’ll have another dog to bring with us next year.”
Riverside Police Officer Tony Dougherty and his new K-9 partner Nero displayed their skills in the ring while the KC Disk Dogs performed demonstrations. Local Girl Scout troops offered the popular “Paw Painting” booth where both large and miniscule paws were painted and then pressed onto a white sheet of paper, creating a masterpiece their owners can display on the refrigerator.
The “bobbing for hot dogs” booth formed a line while canines grew weary of dunking their head beneath water to retrieve the snack. Some proceeded to learn the trick right off, as they chewed “dogs” with a dripping face.
The puppy custard cones provided free by Sheridan’s melted in the warm morning sun, so several dogs licked every ounce of custard from the pavement, hoping for more. Entire muzzles were covered in the white, creamy substance while their tongues stretched to reach the bottom of the flaky cone.
The much-anticipated canine costume contest with 26 participants and the “I look like my dog” contest with 14 were crowd pleasers as they took the stage.
“You’re embarrassing these poor dogs,” Grigsby joked onstage. “Oh, what people will do in their lives! This little golfing dog is getting ready for an afternoon round at The National.”
Homemade clever costumes included Dorothy and Glenda the good witch from The Wizard of Oz, a fairy, chicken, elephant, a golfer complete with golf bag taking second place, maid, devil, a scuba diver with flippers who won third place, and a pirate with a peg leg that made his hobble believable and won first place.
Dean and Mary Deatherage of Easton, Kan. were named the top pledge collectors, making their dog, a 6-year-old Brussels Griffon named Goldie, next year’s event mascot. The couple collected $4,056 in pledges from friends and local businesses.
“It was a lot of hard work but we were happy to help,” said Dean Deatherage. “Most of the people we asked donated either $50 or $100 increments which added up quickly.”
Wuebben said the event raised just under $30,000. There were 550 dogs registered and 2,500 people in the crowd, she said.