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Pawsitively fun:

By Staff | Jul 6, 2018

Judy's Pet Sitting owner Judy Howard, of Harpers Ferry, pets 9-month-old red merle Australian Shepherd Jessie during Bark in the Park Saturday afternoon.

The 12th annual Bark in the Park drew about 80 dogs from across the Eastern Panhandle to Jefferson Memorial Park Saturday afternoon.

The event, which had been rescheduled due to inclement weather predictions, featured 23 vendors, dog demonstrations, games and contests, raffles for dog items, a blessing of the animals, an interactive dog walk and dog goody bags. All of the event proceeds went to covering the costs of the event, which was hosted by the Animal Welfare Society of Jefferson County.

“Other places” Bark in the Parks raise a lot of money for their organizations, but we do this more for community spirit,” said AWSJC board President Ann Trumble about the private, nonprofit, no-kill shelter. “I love to see all of the different dogs that come in, and I think that people enjoy showing off their dogs.”

Participants agreed.

“We own 15 dalmatians, three dobermans, a husky and a boxer mix,” said Blazinspots Dalmatians’ owner Heather Hendricks, of Martinsburg, who has bred dalmatians for 10 years.

Heather and her husband, Stephen Hendricks, also help care for dogs in need of a home or rehabilitation, and want to change peoples’ opinions about some breeds of dogs which may not always be represented accurately to the public.

“We have taken several dogs that have been deemed aggressive, and rehabilitated and trained them,” Stephen said. “We’re firm believers that dogs aren’t naturally mean. Any dog that has a bad reputation in the public eye, it’s all the result of how they’ve been raised and trained.”

Behind the scenes, both children and adults from around Jefferson County were helping to make the event a success.

“Since we started K-Kids four years ago, we’ve been helping with this event — it gives the kids a chance to give back to the community,” said Karen Scott, of Charles Town, who brought 18 Jefferson High School K-Kids and Charles Town Middle School Builders Club to help with the event.

At the beginning of each school year, Scott said kids choose which organizations to help throughout the year-and AWS of Jefferson County is always at the top of the list.

“The girls especially enjoyed helping the dogs go through the interactive dog walk,” Scott said, mentioning the kids have also read to the animals at AWS’s shelter. “Volunteering with the animals at the Animal Welfare Society teaches them to be kind.”

AWSJC Director Bill Hurd was pleased with the event and attended it for the first time.

“Everybody seemed to have a blast. Everybody seemed to be very conscious of the need to keep dogs in the shade, keep them near water,” Hurd said. “Lots of visiting between dog owners, lots of laughing-a lot of these people only see each other at our events, so it’s a people thing and a pet thing, too.”

AWSJC is in need of volunteers, Clorox bleach, paper towels and pelleted pine bedding. To find out more, visit awsjc.com or call 304-725-0589.