City park goes to the dogs

June 5, 2008

By Lydia Sprague

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Best in Show Costume Contest winners Tina Kuran (left) and Cameron Devereux pose with Ginzy. Photo by Jules Maas

Lake Boren is the site for nDog, the first event for local canines

On a wet Saturday in early May, the dogs came to Newcastle’s Lake Boren Park to play. It was the city’s first event for dogs and their owners.The carnival-like event was called nDog, short for Newcastle Dog, and the city’s Parks Department sponsored it.

There were black Labs and rottweilers, dachshunds and poodles. They wore costumes and bandanas, had blankets to keep them warm in the rain, and carried squeaky toys and bones. The pooches and their people (it’s often hard to tell who’s really in charge) participated in events, such as costume contests, agility course demonstrations and pet first aid instruction. They also met trainers, dog treat bakers and a police dog. 

The event benefited the Seattle Humane Society, and all were welcome to participate for free with a donation of food or blankets. 

In the center of the park was a huge, roped-off area where Family Dog, a dog-training center, had demonstrations going on all day. Students of the center demonstrated techniques they learned from obedience and training classes. 

There was an agility course where dogs would jump over hurdles and through hoops to get to a treat at the end. Snowy, a 1-year-old bichon frise, ran the course with her owner, Tasheena Lenti, of Renton, who said she started with basic home obedience classes, but was having so much fun connecting with her dog that she continued to take higher performance classes.

On the other side of the rope, Rainier Gold demonstrated his ability to perform scent article exercises with his owner, Alda Weaver, of Burien.

Scent article exercises are used in the American Kennel Club’s advanced obedience competitions. A handler uses his or her hand to scent an article and places it in a group of identical articles while the dog and its owner are facing the other direction. Then, the dog must pick up the one that was scented by the handler.

“There’s a lot of correlation between having relationships with people and having relationships with dogs. So, this is really rewarding,” said Kathy Lang, owner of Family Dog.

She had an educational booth with suggestions for owners about obedience problems. 

Meanwhile, a little dog named Lucy was sitting in a chair waiting for her brother, Desi, to get his picture taken with her. While Lucy waited patiently, Desi ran from the camera. He was more interested in the other dogs.

Rick Takagi, a professional photographer, took complimentary portraits of dogs. Takagi, of Kirkland, has a contract with Newcastle to photograph all city events. 

Eventually, Lucy and Desi were persuaded to sit together on the chair, but getting both dogs to be still long enough to have their picture taken was a task that only a pro like Takagi could have conquered.

Outside the photography booth, Deena Cornish, from Uneekdogs.com, an organic dog treat bakery, passed by offering free samples to dogs. The bakery deals mostly with online retail, but Cornish said it sells treats at a couple of local pet shops. She said it will soon begin supplying a new pet shop in the Issaquah Highlands. 

Sharing a booth with Uneekdogs was Debora Rosen, a dog trainer from Tacoma, who offers group classes and private lessons through her company, Good Citizen Canine. 

Cornish told a story about enlisting Rosen’s help when she encountered a dog with a growling problem. Cornish was picking up towels from the Seahawks, who donate used players’ towels to dog shelters, when she heard about a problem that the groundskeeper was having with his dog, Marley, who liked to growl at delivery people. 

The groundskeeper usually brought his dog to work, but would have to start leaving him at home if he kept growling at people. Cornish told the groundskeeper to call Rosen, who had the dog under control in a matter of days.

Jules Maas, Newcastle’s special events producer, coordinated the festivities. She said that although the rain probably kept some people from attending, she still considered nDog a success as the event attracted a lot of dogs. It is set to be an annual event.

Lydia Sprague is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communications News Laboratory.

 

 

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