Monday, June 26, 2000

Pups strut their stuff at Dogfest

By Jenny Callison
Enquirer contributor

        UNION TOWNSHIP — Sunday was a day for the dogs at West Chester's Voice of America Park.

        Dogfest, an event for canines and their owners, had most dogs making tracks to the activity areas, dragging their owners along. There were serious endeavors, such as obedience and agility trials. Other events, such as the canine talent show and the Frisbee contest, were more light-hearted.

        Destiny, a 14-month-old Curly Coated Retriever, could barely contain himself while watching Diamond retrieve a series of dummy birds launched by trainer Nate Baxter.

        Diamond, a 15-month-old Labrador, raced across the park meadow to locate objects she could barely see.

        “Nate uses a combination of whistle and hand signals to guide the dog close to the dummy,“ explained Destiny's owner, Mary Kay Morel of Maineville. She added that Destiny also trains with Dr. Baxter, a Lebanon veterinarian.

        Waiting with her Weimaraner in the obedience area, Sheila Cook of Wilmore, Ky., wasn't sure how they would fare in the intermediate-level trial.

        “Toby has only just started competing at this level,” she said before leading him into the ring.

        But Toby acquitted himself well, following Ms. Cook's every move without benefit of a leash, then executing a broad jump and high jump.

        Elsewhere, people lined up for information about dogs and dog-related services. Pooches snarfed free treats while their owners loaded up on Dispoz-A-Scoops.

        “We're delighted with the way this is going,” said Bill Zerkle, West Chester's director of parks and recreation.

        Mr. Zerkle couldn't estimate the crowd size. “But within the first two hours we'd given away the free bandanas to the first 500 dogs.”


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