Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Strut along with Animal Shelter benefit

Barkiní events are slated this weekend

Express Staff Writer

Taking a practice stroll on the Mutt Strut route are (left to right) Derek Thompson, Jan Main, Anneka Thompson, Gwen Thompson, Lily Brunelle, Anne Brunelle, Ben Brunelle, Dane Thompson and their four legged friends. Express photo by Paulette Phlipot

It's time to celebrate the Wood River Valley's deep love for its domestic pets. The Animal Shelter of the Wood River Valley is an organization that attracts supporters who are passionate about animals. For fun, parents take their children to the shelter and walk the dogs that have been either rescued or abandoned. There are people in the valley who leave endowments to the no-kill shelter in their wills.

One of the joys of the summer is the organization's grand fundraising event at the Trail Creek Pavilion in Sun Valley. The "Dog Days of Summer Benefit Dinner & Auction" will be held at 6 p.m. Friday, July 18. One of the highlights this year are the custom made dog and cat bowls made by Wood River Valley artists and residents. These will be part of the larger silent auction. Called the Doggie Diner and Kitty Café, it was organized by long time shelter supporter Sheila Lierman.

"Chris Kastner from CK's Real Food created a couple of feeding stands out of wine crates, she said. "Others have sought out interesting wood and pottery and created true works-of-art." An informal fashion show will also be a new addition to the event.

In conjunction with the benefit on Friday night, there will be a full day of activities on Saturday, July 19, for anyone interested.

"What we've done this year is expand on our summer benefit," event organizer Jan Main said. "We're making it a whole weekend with more to choose from over the days."

There will be a Mutt Strut on Saturday morning, followed by an open barbecue and party at 11 a.m. at the shelter approximately 1.5 miles west of Hailey in Croy Creek Canyon.

The Mutt Strut, organized by Anne Brunelle of Hailey, will begin with registration at 9 a.m. at the back parking lot of the Wood River Middle School in Hailey.

The Mutt Strut will begin at 10 a.m. and take approximately an hour, depending on one's gait. It runs 2.7 miles from the WRMS into the Northridge neighborhood, south on the bike path to McKercher Ave. then back to the middle school. There will be dog-watering stations along the route.

"It's not a timed event but a celebration and a chance to show off your dog," Brunelle said.

"It's a family thing that's accessible to more people," Main said.

For those thirsty from the efforts, human refreshments will be offered at the middle school's parking lot during the Mutt Strut. The cost to participate is $25 for one person and dog, $35 for a couple and one dog, $45 for a family of four and one dog. Each additional person or dog is $25. All dogs must be on a leash, and if someone has no dog but wants a partner for the walk animal shelter dogs will be on hand. A goodie bag will be provided for each registrant.

Awards in various categories will be handed out at the Animal Shelter during the Open House party. Judged by Dale Colsner and emceed by David Frei (of Westminister Dog Show fame), the nine award categories are: Best Costume, Dog Days Pace (slowest), Fastest Pooch, Best Trick, Best Kisser, Best Tail Wag, Best Dog/Owner Look-alike, Best Mannered and Loudest Cheer (bark).

A Colorado-based operation, Code 3 Associates, will have the Big Animal Rescue Truck on hand as an exhibition. This 77-foot tractor-trailer is used in disaster situations all over the country, including Hurricane Katrina. B.A.R.T.'s rig sleeps eight, has an operating room, nine built-in kennels, a kitchen, office and bathroom. It was designed to "support and extend the ability of any agency or organization to effectively accomplish its mission in disaster or emergency," its Web site says.

The bike path will not be closed for the Mutt Strut, so participants should be aware that bikes, walkers and other dog walkers may be sharing space, Main said.

As well, there will be a poop patrol on the walk to monitor clean-ups.

For more information on the fundraiser or the Mutt Strut, call the Animal Shelter at 788-4351.

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