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It’s a doggy-dog world: DogFest 2019 descends on Shepherdstown

By Staff | May 10, 2019

CountryK9 owner and trainer Larry Myers, left, watches as Orange County Police Officer Corporal Robert Bragg demonstrates obedience training with four-year-old Lulu at DogFest on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — As the Seventh Annual DogFest descended on Shepherdstown over the weekend, dogs roamed along King Street, splashing in paddle pools and snacking on gourmet treats.

Although DogFest was temporarily moved this year, a week ahead of its regular celebration on the second weekend in May, hundreds of people and dogs visited the event to shop from local dog-related vendors and to learn more about dog topics, such as training, boarding and feeding.

“We do sell raw dog food, but education is one of our priorities. Healthy dogs are happy dogs,” said Bentley’s Specialty Pet Foods employee Maresa Campbell, of Hedgesville, who was a veterinary technician for 20 years. “A raw diet is very good, the processing is easier for their bodies to digest. Vets are extremely leery of it, because when raw is not done correctly it can be harmful. People try to make homemade raw diets and don’t always do their research and give their animals a balanced diet.”

According to Campbell, this year was the first time the Hedgesville-based store has had a booth at DogFest, which she anticipates will become a regular event on the store’s calendar.

“I hope owners will learn to be aware of what they’re feeding, and strive to feed their pets better food because of that,” Campbell said, mentioning pet food labels are not strictly monitored by the FDA. “We’re in it for the pets.”

Pawsitively Kip and Harper owner and certified trainer Karin Fellers leads 12-year-old grey merle Border Collie Kip through a series of tricks at DogFest Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

For some, DogFest was an opportunity to learn about local dog adoption possibilities.

“This is Archie. He was found as a stray three months ago, and he’s down at Jefferson Animal Control. He’s neutered and is about five-years-old,” said JAC volunteer trainer Becky Garbarino, as she pet Archie’s head. “He saved a cat the other day, so Archie’s a hero.”

Diane Batt, of Shepherdstown, and her daughter Maia Batt-Bickey, a sophomore at Jefferson High School, talked with Garbarino about Archie, and said they would consider adopting him.

“I want to adopt him, absolutely, but she’s not sure about it,” Batt-Bickey said of Batt. “I like coming to DogFest, because you can talk with people who know dogs and professionals.”

Over in the performance area of DogFest, dog obedience demonstrations were being given by CountryK9 Pet Training and Spa owner Larry Myers, Orange County Police Department Corporal Canine Officer Robert Bragg and Myers’ four-year-old dog Lulu.

Tasha, a nine-month-old Yorkie Cairn Terrier, relaxes behind a DogFest booth for Bentley's Specialty Pet Food on Saturday morning. Tabitha Johnston

“I hope they get out of the demonstration that obedience is key in dog training,” Bragg said about the business’ training programs for pets and working dogs. “These dogs aren’t doing this out of aggression, they’re doing it out of fun.”

Myers, who trained police force dogs for 10 years, agreed with Bragg, as he directed Lulu to stand still on a platform.

“Sometimes there’s a misconception that training’s about anger and being the alpha,” Myers said, mentioning this is one of two misconceptions on dog training. “There’s a lot of fallacy in dog training and a lot of emphasis on being over-positive. With us, we’re about consistency and communication. We’re showing that dogs can do amazing things.”

At left, Jefferson High School sophomore Maia Batt-Bickey, right, and Jefferson Animal Control volunteer Becky Barbarino, left, pet Archie, who has been available for adoption from Jefferson Animal Control for three months, at DogFest on Saturday. Tabitha Johnston