ANN BAILEY: All 4 Fun Dog Festival makes for a howling good timeUsually if I talk about something going to the dogs, I’m not casting the subject of my observation in a positive light. But an exception to that is the All 4 Fun Dog Festival that was held on a recent Saturday at the Circle of Friends Humane Society in Grand Forks.
Usually if I talk about something going to the dogs, I’m not casting the subject of my observation in a positive light. But an exception to that is the All 4 Fun Dog Festival that was held on a recent Saturday at the Circle of Friends Humane Society in Grand Forks.
The festival was all about dogs and featured games, contests and demonstrations. The No. 1 dog lover in our family, my daughter, Ellen, was in heaven from the moment we arrived at the festival with her dog, Rosebud, in tow. (Or was Ellen in tow? Rosebud needs work on heeling, so sometimes it’s hard to determine who’s walking who.)
And the best dog is...
One of the first events of the day were dog contests, including best dressed, best tricks and cutest. Owners and their dogs were instructed to parade in front of judges Ryan Bakken, Herald reporter and columnist, and Terry Dulum, WDAZ-TV reporter and anchor. I told Ellen she should enter as the dog and owner who most resembled one another. She looked a little miffed at me until I pointed out that she and Rosebud both were wearing pink.
But after mulling it over, Ellen decided to enter Rosebud in the cutest dog category. It was a good choice because Rosebud won. Before anyone accuses Bakken of nepotism because we are Herald co-workers, I have to note that Rosebud was the only one entered in that category.
It didn’t matter to Ellen. She was as happy with winning as she would have been if there were a hundred times that many dogs entered. She was all smiles as the crowd applauded and then, after she proudly put the plastic medallion around Rosebud’s neck, Ellen walked her over to me so I could admire it. Other owners seemed similarly proud when their canine companions won and received applause for their efforts.
One of the many enjoyable things about the festival was the camaraderie among the dog owners. I didn’t know most of the people there, but several introduced themselves, asked about Rosebud and told Ellen and me about their dogs. It also was fun trading dog stories with the other owners. I was relieved to find out that Maggie, our incorrigible yellow lab, isn’t the only one of her kind whose brain doesn’t seem to be engaged very often.
It was good, too, to see the variety of dogs at the festival. Some of them were purebreds, some were “designer” breeds and others were a mixture of a few different breeds. They were short, medium-size and tall, fat, slightly overweight and just right.
The common thread was that whatever the dogs’ breed or appearance, their owners clearly loved their pets and the pets appeared to feel the same way. The little ones snuggled around their owners’ ankles or in their laps and the larger ones, like Rosebud, stood close by their owners’ sides or lay at their feet.
The bond between the dogs and their humans also was evident during the doggie dash. The dash was a race in which the dogs stood at one end of a field, held by a volunteer, and their owners stood at the other. When the word “go” was announced, the volunteers let go of the dogs and they raced to their owners. Rosebud was running so fast to Ellen that she nearly couldn’t stop and almost knocked her over.
Besides sharing a commoninterest with the dog owners and witnessing the affection they had for their animals, another thing I enjoyed about the festival was that it was, as its name suggested, designed to be fun. Owners were encouraged to take part in the activities, such as the doggie obstacle course, whether their pets were good at navigating them or not.
For example, Rosebud refused to jump through a hoop on the course, so the judges told Ellen that she could jump through it, instead. Ellen was delighted to comply and Rosebud was happy to go around the hoop.
Rosebud and Ellen also participated in the musical dogs sit and walk competition in which owners walked their dogs until the music stopped and then told them to sit. Rosebud got fifth out of some 20 dogs. The volunteers who were judging the event congratulated Ellen on Rosebud’s good showing before they left the circle, so Ellen thought Rosebud did a super job being the fifth best sitter.
The enthusiasm and encouragement of the judges and other Circle of Friends Humane Society volunteers who were running All 4 Fun Dog Festival made it a grand day for Ellen and piqued her interest in practicing for next year’s competition. All the way home she talked about how well Rosebud did in the classes in which she competed and what the two of them were going to do to prepare for next year. One thing I’m convinced that she won’t have to practice for is having fun. I’m sure the Circle of Friends staff and volunteers will see to that.