This Saturday marks the Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County's 7th annual Bark in the Park fundraising event at Jefferson Memorial Park in Charles Town. The event will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and will focus on man's best friend.
Registration begins at 9:30 a.m. for an event that offers all kinds of fun for canines and their human partners. Kicking off the morning is a blessing of the animals by Rev. Melanie McCarley from Zion Episcopal Church.
Following the blessing, the dogs will gather to participate in the Interactive Dog Walk. Those who wish to bring their dog to share in the day's events are encouraged to gather pledges before Saturday's event to correspond with the laps in the dog walk. Similar to pledges in a walk-a-thon, this portion of the event serves as a welcome addition to the fundraising activities.
AWS board member and treasurer Jane Tarner shared that new stations have been added to the walk this year including a teeter-totter and two balance beams. Dogs will also be able to search for biscuits in the biscuit hunt portion of the walk. The biscuits will be buried in a pool of tennis balls, Tarner said, and the dogs can sniff them out.
A misting station has been included in this year's event to ensure that the warm temperatures do not cause any problems for the participants.
In addition to the interactive dog walk, there will be several demonstrations by dog trainers. Tarner laughed when she described past events where the "dog audience sits and watches the demos."
Karin Fellers with Keep it Positive Dog Training and Stephen Rafe, with Starfire for Dogs are among those who will demonstrate obedience and other tricks. Dogs from the audience will be allowed to participate in some portions of the demonstration.
Dogs, along with their owners, may also choose to participate in the Biscuit Walk, similar to a cake walk. "Who Let the Dogs Out" will come through the speakers and when the music stops, the dog on the selected number will receive a prize.
The event welcomes 30 vendors to this year's Bark in the Park. Many are associated with pets while some will offer a variety of goods not geared toward pets. Some of those who will set up their booths are Anita Britner with Harley's Closet, specializing in dog fashions; Pet Styles Grooming Salon, Bright Dog Academy and Susanne Koenig who will show animal portraits. Other vendors include 31 Products, jewelry, and jellies and wood carvings. Several dog rescues will also be set up on vendor row.
Big Daddy's Barbecue will provide delicious food for the day's event. Attendees may be given a vendor passport to have stamped by each of the vendors set up. Completed passports will be entered into a prize drawing. Raffle items will also be on hand for visitors to take a chance.
All proceeds from the Bark in the Park event go toward supporting the general fund of the Jefferson County Animal Welfare Society. Last year's event raised $5,700 and Tarner hopes that the 2013 Bark will raise even more.
Tarner commended the four sponsors of this year's event, including J&K Precision Auto Care, Jeff and Kay Bresee (Jeff also serves as president of the AWS board), Gold's Gym in Charles Town and Ranson Animal Hospital.
Registration is a $10 donation per dog for the event and each canine friend receives a doggy bandana. This major fundraiser for the Animal Welfare Society depends on the contributions from these pledges to help sustain the society's animal shelter on Leetown Pike and other programs.
For more information, visit www.awsjc.org or call 304-725-5972.