All bark: Pet expo raises over $22,000 for shelterBy SARA YOUNG-KNOX
Union Leader Correspondent
September 23. 2012 7:43PM
NORTH CONWAY - It was a big day for dogs at the 15th annual Bark in the Park Pet Expo and Walk for the Animals, held in Schouler Park on Saturday. The pledges from the walk were over $22,000, according to Virginia Moore, development director of Animal Rescue League-North, who said Saturday afternoon that the total did not include the other monies raised from the event.
It was a slow start, but a strong finish, Moore said. It was drizzling in the morning - the walk started at 9:30 a.m. - but cleared after 11 a.m. Moore said last year's walk raised almost $13,000.
It's the largest fundraiser for the Conway shelter, which has a facility at 223 East Main Street in Conway. Formerly known as the Conway Area Humane Society, the facility includes an adoptions center for dog, cats and small animals, and the Mount Washington Valley Dog Park, which is available to dogs and their owners for a membership fee.
There were some professionals at the park, with a police canine demonstration and Flying High Frisbee Dogs drawing onlookers, but the dogs who proved the most entertaining were those who challenged their owners in the event rings.
Owen, a Newfoundland, knew his commands as he and his owner, Terri Brooks of Freedom, went around the bases in the Obedience Baseball competition. At first base, dogs had to sit, and at second base had to get down on their front legs. The skills needed at third base seemed to prove the hardest for some. Dogs had to stay while their owners ran to home plate, then come when commanded.
One young girl lost her dog's attention when he nosed his way under the mesh fencing. Another dog paused at third base long enough to pick up the owner's end of his leash.
'I think they should take seconds off for her carrying her own leash,' Stacey Sand, emcee of the event, remarked.
As always, it was the social aspect of the day, both for canines and humans, that made the sunshine seem that much brighter. The average size of the dogs at the park appears to be getting smaller, as the trends in dog ownership favor the smaller breeds.
Cheryl Fenwick, Dan Millet, and granddaughter Seliina brought their 'gems' down from Berlin for the event, their three Shih Tzus, Ruby, Safire and Diamond. They've been coming through the notch several years for the event. 'We love it,' Fenwick said.
On the other side of the weight scale, big, black, fluffy Owen stood out. 'This is Owen's favorite (event),' Brooks said of her well-behaved Newfoundland.
In the medium-sized dog category, Kathy Cossette of Fryeburg, Maine, brought two black labs to the park, Moxie and J.B. Cossette is a volunteer for Assistance Canine Training Services of Tuftonboro, and 18-month-old J.B. is in training to be a service dog for the physically disabled.
Cossette said the trainers get the dogs at 8 weeks old, working with them until they are 2 years old.
'A lot of it is social, just getting them out in public,' she explained. The dogs go everywhere with the trainers, from restaurants to churches. 'You name it, we take them.' The second part of the dog's education is task training, which involves teaching the dog how to open doors, turn on lights, carry objects, pick up dropped objects, and more.
Cossette said they train weekly at Telling Tails in Fryeburg, which had a vendor booth at Bark in the Park.
The Conway shelter accepts strays and owner-relinquished pets. It also takes transfers from high-kill centers in the South.
For more information, call 447-5955 or go to conwayshelter.org.