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Bark in the Park, a walk-a-thon and fundraiser, is held each spring to generate money for the London Humane Society. This year, I invited my friend, Kristyne, and her golden retriever, Daisy, to join Tessi and me for the event. Five year old Daisy has never had the chance to travel or socialize with a myriad of people and other dogs. I've wanted to expand her world. Off-leash Run Thinking Daisy and Tessi would have a great deal of energy once we reached London, we stopped at the fenced-in, off-leash area at Greenway Park, just a short walk from where Bark in the Park was being held. Daisy stuck close to Kristyne, occupying herself by sniffing through the grass. She was probably amazed at the presence of odours from the many others of her kind that had been there before her. Rupert When I met up with another friend, Genevieve, and her husband, Dave, who are new doggy parents to 4 1/2 month old Rupert, Kristyne took Daisy for a walk through the wooded section. In contrast to Daisy, Rupert, a lab/Australian shepherd mix was running with the other dogs. He eventually came over to us. I had barely given him a pat hello when he ran off to play again. Living in the city, Genevieve is able to take Rupert to the off-leash park often. Leashed Up Once we decided our four-legged companions had had enough play, we leashed them and strolled over to the event, making our way around pledge earners scattered along the multi-use pathway. The first tent we approached featured the business A Village Tail, where we were offered sample packs of yummy-looking dog treats. It was the start of the numerous samples that would be given to the dogs throughout the day. Two large tents were lined with tables and vendors selling their wares and advertising their businesses. In the first tent, the London Humane Society was selling a variety of merchandise printed with their logo, such as shirts, hats and dog whistles. Most of these items are always available at the shelter. Since the humane society was holding its 25th annual Bark in the Park, they were offering bone-shaped treats with the number 25 baked on top. Rupert tried stealing one of these special treats he found in front of an older dog lying between two tables. Gen and I managed to pull the tidbit out of Rupert's mouth. We no sooner retrieved it, when he grabbed it again, making us wrench it out of his mouth once more. The dog's owner said it was okay for Rupert to have it as there were plenty; however, his food sensitivities don't allow it. We wandered through the second big tent, which was set up the same way as the first. I was talking to two women across a table from me, when a third female popped up between them, putting her paws on the table - eyes immediately checking for anything appetizing. That female was my Tessi. I was surprised her lead reached that far. The two women laughed once they overcame their surprise. I have noticed at dog events that almost everyone is tolerant of minor canine transgressions. Genevieve and her family headed to the In Dogs We Trust table to talk to trainer Melissa. Rupert is one of her clients. Meanwhile, Kristyne and I took the girls in search of water. Before long we found a table where volunteers were filling small Styrofoam bowls with water. Daisy obviously needed refreshment - one of the volunteers kept poring and Daisy kept drinking. Tessi slurped two full bowls herself. When we returned, we caught up with Genevieve and Dave at the agility demonstration, where all kinds of dogs were running the course. As the day progressed, I was noticing Daisy isn't shy with people. She'd walk right up to anyone, presuming she'd be given attention. While we were watching the agility demonstration, Kristyne turned to find Daisy had squeezed in, from behind, between two seated people to say hello. When Kristyne took Daisy for more water, I stayed to watch the stage entertainment, which showcased pet tricks and dog training demonstrations among other performances. Eventually, after I bought a pizza slice (proceeds were donated), we sat at the end of a row of picnic tables, where the rest of my gang soon joined us. I kept Tessi tethered close to me, while we humans chatted. At one point, I looked down to check her and pulled up an empty collar. She had escaped. After calling her a few times, I found her crawling out from under the other end of the row of picnic tables. She had likely been picking up fallen food. I apologized to the people sitting there, adding an extra apology just in case she had been trying to mooch off them. Again, I was rewarded with an enthusiastic dog-tolerant response. After eating, we headed home. During the drive, the girls had a peaceful, happy sleep; bellies were filled with the doggy cookies. They didn't realize how lucky they were to attend this event that makes money to help fellow canines not so fortunate. For More Info Some of the Participating Vendors 

(c) Cheryl Smyth, 2009

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