OXFORD — No bones about it, Oxford Hills residents and their K9 friends will have a doggone good time at the third annual Fun Dog Day this weekend.
The major fundraiser for Responsible Pet Care in Paris will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday at the Oxford Fairgrounds at 68 Pottle Road and will be held rain or shine. Admission is free for all of the events except the Fun Dog Walk, which is $10 per person. Registration begins at 10 a.m. with the walk stepping off at 11:15 a.m.
Some participants have been gathering pledges for the walk ahead of time, but can still participate on Sunday without them, organizer Ellen Benner said.
“Actually people can come and not even walk and still have a Fun Dog Day with their dog,” she said Monday. “Our other mission is to be educational and just show people all the opportunities out there to have fun with their dogs.”
The opening ceremony will start at 11 a.m. and a blessing of the dogs will be held before the walk.
For those looking for other forms of fun besides walking, there’s a whole slate of activities lined up. They include teaching people and their dogs how to run an agility course, followed by an agility off, and a rally, which is a more obedience-based event. The latter requires people and their dogs to complete certain tasks — such as sitting — in the timed event.
“This is is the first year we’ve done (the rally), but this is fun for people who can’t run in an agility course,” Benner said.
Also expanded this year is the Pup Tent for children. Each child gets a passport for traveling the fairgrounds, receives stickers for each event or task they complete and can turn them in to get a prize. Under the tent, kids can make a bandana for their dog, teach their canine friend an agility trick and do other crafts.
“We want kids to travel through to figure out what they can do with their dog. It also gets the parents moving and you get (to see) the vendors,” Benner said, adding there’s a number of boarding, training and other dog-related vendors who will be in attendance.
Back by popular demand are Maine State Police Trooper Jonathan Russell and his K9, Gus. Joining in on the fun for 2015 are Trooper Justin Cooley and his K9, Bruin.
“The demonstration by our troopers that’s really how we hold the crowd until the end of the day,” Benner said. “It is really quite something.”
One of the major events is the Fun Dog Show, in which Benner said anyone can participate, noting “the more the merrier.” There’s one for children and one for adults.
“(It) is not serious in any way. The judges are usually people in the audience so anyone can be a judge,” she said. “They have official numbers like you do in a real dog show and they just kind of parade around. … The kids are really cute when they come in the ring and they think it’s so serious.”
Also on tap for Sunday are a state game warden, who will show the audience what K9s do to assist wardens with their work; Wayne’s Water World, where dogs can cool off in small swimming pools and members of Maine Lost Dog Recovery to educate people on what to do when their dog is lost. It’s normal this time of year, between vacationers and fireworks, for people to lose their dogs, Benner said. She noted the shelter has 20 dogs right now that have been picked up and usually that number hovers around 12 or 13 the rest of the year.
There will also be fun games for owners and their dogs. Sergei Bachkovsky of Dog Rehabilitation Center and Sanctuary of Maine, who owns 45 dogs that live in a pack, will be on hand, Benner said.
“We call him Maine’s dog whisperer,” she added. “People can get a lot of help. If you have a dog with an issue at all, he is wonderful with giving tips.”
Each year, the local animal shelter cares for more than 700 homeless dogs and cats. The event will help fund two major projects RPC wants to undertake — purchasing a used van equipped to transport animals for medical care, including spaying and neutering, and to complete an indoor training room for dogs.
For more information about Fun Dog Day, contact Benner at 743-7307.