Bark in the Park 2012

Rain, rain go away! Bark in the Park is my favorite dog event of the year. It started with a stormy looking morning. I signed up for the 1 mile Puppy Trot (instead of the 5k) hoping that Yuuki could walk the whole thing and get some steps on his little pedometer. We showed up to a cold dreary morning, but I wasn’t about to let that stop my fun. This the biggest collection of dog-related vendors in one place for the whole year! It was time for me to get my doggy-nerd on. Seriously.

8-ball waiting for his humans to finish the 5k

I offered to walk my favorite not-my-dog so the giant husky wouldn’t have to run 5k– mostly because I thought it was going to be hot. He speeded along as Yuuki huffed behind us. Yuuki tried really hard, but he didn’t make it the whole mile. I walked him for a little bit of it in his pouch, but I let him finish strong. Just as my friends finished the 5k with their dogs, it began to sprinkle…then rain…then DOWNPOUR! Oh sadness of sadnesses. Doesn’t the sky know that today is a dog festival day?? There are dogs that need to be adopted and doggy t-shirts that need to be bought.

We waited it out for a bit under the registration tent- really about an hour. At noon, it cleared up to a regular rain and so we determined to make the best of it (thank goodness for dog-nerd friends!). Yuuki was wearing his hoodie, tucked into his pouch, zipped up in my raincoat and sheltered by my umbrella– and still a little cold. We pretty much ran from booth to booth picking up freebees like we were trick-or-treating. I had no idea what I’d grabbed. Then came the torrential downpour. We waited that out for a few minutes under the Two Brothers Dog Wash tent– he was understandably upset about the rain. Then, off again into the muddy, sloppy mess in the field. We stayed to watch the Police Dog Demonstration, but they apparently left early. The Jack Russell frisbee team was totally not feeling the frisbees.

Out of all of this, though I missed strolling without thinking about how pruny my feet are, there were two new attractions this year that I really liked. First, The Midway Veterinary Hospital in Chesapeake adopted a puppy from the Chesapeake Animal Control whom they named “Squirtle.” I’ve actually been referred to this clinic often because they handle hedgehogs there. At their booth, they were putting in raffles for a “guess my breed” contest for little Squirtle. You could guess two and write it down. They plan to get a genetic test done (though I’m skeptical of these because of an article in The Bark — I think it’s gotten better over the years as they include more breeds in the database) and the closest match wins. We all love to guess the mutt make-up, so it was a pretty brilliant idea! Next best: Radar Run. I saw it on the flyer, but didn’t understand what it was. They used police speed radars to measure the running speed of dogs down a corridor. Around midday, the fastest was about 34 mph. Of course, Yuuki had to play, too! As I expected, he didn’t run top speed and stopped to pee about 3/4 of the way through, but he got a whopping 2 mph on the records. He should get an award for cutest run. I noticed as he left the line was much longer. I’m not saying it was his cuteness that drew in the crowds, but…

Yuuki’s certificate for running in the Radar Run. 2mph!! Yay!!

All in all, despite the rain, I had a pretty good dog day hanging out with fun people and awesome dogs. Can’t wait until next year!

Yuuki sleeping off the rainy, cold day at Bark in the Park

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Pack Walk with Cesar Millan and Scooby Doo

At the Pack Walk start line before everyone else

Last night after work, we packed the Chihuahuas in the car- forgetting most of our stuff but remembering Yuuki’s meds and our toothbrushes- and made a late night trip through horrific traffic and torrential downpour. It was for a great reason though.

Event set up on the National Mall

Today was Cesar Millan’s Second Annual Family Pack Walk which took place in Washington, D.C. on the National Mall this year. Last year it was in California, and who knows where it will be next year. After some debate (I’m a little worn out from my recent international and regional travels) and important encouragement from my work-b.f.f., I decided I was just going to suck it up and make the drive. It was totally worth it. I would say that, in all honesty, I was a little disappointed with the post-walk event, but the chance to walk with Cesar with worth it. I know some people have their issues with him, but I don’t and I’m totally okay with that!

The twins are marveling over how big the Wolfhound was

We stayed with my friend, his mom and his twin girls. The dogs were not particularly happy with this arrangement, and Yuuki launched into demon-chihuahua mode at each of the girls at least once. Chilly is always nice enough to make up for Yuuki’s bad behavior.

We got up early and drove into the heart of D.C. to find parking and make our way to the National Mall. There were more dogs there than I’ve ever seen in one place in my life. As my friends all know, Chesapeake’s Bark in the Park (happening next week) is my favorite dog festival of the year, but this one certainly had that one topped in dog size and variety. It was like a parade of all the breeds you only see on Dogs 101. How often do you find yourself pressed against someone with two Irish Wolfhounds? A full parade of Mastiffs in all assortments. A passel of greyhounds. Chihuahuas in all shapes and sizes. It was worth it just to see the parade of dogs!

Yuuki’s sporting his new Scooby Doo bandana

Because we got there so early, we had some time to waste and wandered around a bit. We got free t-shirts, the chihuahuas got bandanas and we got a ton of free poop bags. I got a little bit of judgement (only whispers and looks, no actual comments) because I was carrying Yuuki around in his pouch. My mom made this bag that he rides in– originally because he occasionally tweaks his

Yuuki in his pouch

back and can’t walk, now because his heart condition has dramatically reduced his walking stamina– and it makes me look like one of those people that carries her dog in her purse. In my defense, he enjoys his pouch and he lets me know when he wants to get out and in again. Some media guy took a photo of me holding Chilly with one hand and Yuuki in his pouch. I wonder if that’ll go up somewhere…

It took a while to get started, so we visited with other dogs near the starting line. Cesar gave a little talk (Thomas got a video of it on his phone) and then…after about 40 minutes of waiting…this mob of dogs and people began to move! It was super fun. There’s something to be said about a good dog parade with mostly well-behaved dogs.

Mobs of people and dogs waiting at the start line for the walk

Cesar and Scooby doing the pre-Pack Walk pep talk

Pack Walk around the National Mall. Yuuki made it most of the way- though we dropped to the back with the other fat/old dogs…

After the Pack Walk, we wandered around, but if you were older than 5, there wasn’t much to see. I sort of expected something like Bark in the Park with vendors and people selling t-shirts and crafts. The vendors were mostly D.C.-based tourism institutions (like the National Children’s Museum opening this December) or the event sponsors (Purina, Vetericyn and Scooby Doo). The girls played with parachutes and made crafts and visited the Scooby Van, but other than that, there wasn’t much to see. We stayed a couple hours admiring the amazing breeds passing by and then headed back through horrific traffic (I don’t get it– why is I-95 full of traffic for no reason on a Saturday afternoon??).

The Chihuahuas are passed out now, and it turns out that Shizuka actually missed us! I left her behind because I figured she’d rather be hunting (and she hates the heat), but apparently she sulked for the 24 hours we were gone. Maybe we’re bonding after all!

It was totally worth it, and I always love a good Cesar event. And Yuuki got more exercise than he’s gotten in a long time thanks to the relatively cool weather. Can’t wait to get my doggy vendor fix next weekend at Bark in the Park though!

Ten down, nine to go!

I know, I know. Two posts in one day is too many. After a long absence though, and the fact that the last post was technically a re-post from my international travels, plus the urge to write about this because it’s a story I love so much, I’m going to post anyway!

The Operation Chihuahua Airlift has successfully resulted in 10 local adoptions of California toy breeds! Nine more, and Portsmouth Humane Society will have successfully saved 19 doomed toy dogs (mostly Chihuahuas) from one of California’s very Chi-inundated shelters. Hooray for saving Chihauhuas! I’m not spreading any new news here, but while shelters on the east coast are packed to the brim with Pitties and Pit-mixes, CA is bursting at the seams with toy breeds. According to a local news story, the Humane Society in Pasadena put out a call for help because they couldn’t handle the flow of Chihuahuas coming through their doors. PHS rose the challenge, and less that 24 hours after adoptions have opened (at noon yesterday), over half are already on their way to forever homes! Puppies and seniors and muts and pure breeds. It’s a little dog mania!! Adoption stories don’t get any better than this.

In March of last year, the ASPCA in NYC did a similar chihuahua airlift project (not their first) and there was a line waiting around the building to adopt the little ones. Last November, “Operation Air Chihuahua” saw 30 toy dogs rehomed in Houston from Los Angeles. I remember reading a while ago that even actress Katherine Heigl got involved, sponsoring 25 toy dogs to fly across the country to areas where they were in higher demand.

It’s an incredible exercise in supply and demand as fundraising efforts and generous donations from airline partners attempt to rescue these tiny companions from an untimely end. A Santa Cruz newspaper recently noted that thousands of toy breeds are being euthanized each day in CA due to overcrowding in shelters. I heard- though I think it was a blip on a reality tv show, so no factchecking here- that some CA shelters can’t keep these little guys more than 3 days because they’re so full. They’ve had to retro-fit cages to keep them from escaping the big-dog kennels where they can be kept in small packs (rather than the tiny mouse-box that I got Yuuki from).

Anyway, enough of the sadness out in CA (which we experience here with our masses and masses of Pitties waiting for adoption), I’m so proud of PHS for all they’ve done to get these toy dogs shipped across the country and rehomed so fast! They’ve got a great marketing guru over there and an amazing volunteer staff. Oh, and as a side note, while looking at their site for more information about the chihuahuas (because I’m obsessed with their little faces!!–for a full photo tour, see their Facebook page), I noticed they host birthday parties at their newly rennovated (and long awaited/deserved) shelter. Do you think I’m too old??