It might have been a cool day on Saturday, but there were hot dogs at Watson Upper Valley Dog Park.
There were also dragons, a knight, a cow, a postman, a cowgirl and a Red Sox fan. All had four legs.
The motley crew of costumed dogs traveled for the park’s Dogaween celebration. In addition to a costume contest, the group that runs the dog park, which is on city land, also sold baked goods and held a garage sale to raise funds to support the operational costs of the park, which total approximately $ 5,000 per year.
This year’s event was the park’s first since the death in March of one of the park’s founders, Wendy Smith, who lived near Hartford Village and “did it all,” according to Jace Bunnell, one of the leaders. from the Upper Valley Dog Park. Supporters.
The remaining park volunteers worked “to get back on track,” said Bunnell, a resident of Lebanon.
Regular maintenance includes snow removal, mowing and water charges, as well as maintaining the supply of poop bags. Anne Rodia, the group’s treasurer, said providing poop bags alone can cost $ 750. Hartford resident Jerry Pendleton said he dug a ditch by hand to help divert water from the park.
âIf it weren’t for Jerry, I don’t think we would have a park,â Rodia said.
The park has separate sections for large and small dogs, benches for people, and culvert-shaped climbing structures for dogs. Trees are a feature of the park and some dogs sneaked between them as they played on Saturday. A bench on the little dog’s side is the future home of a plaque dedicated to Smith, Bunnell said.
Rodia and Pendleton both have small dogs and are part of a group that meets at the park almost every day at 3 p.m. In winter, they rent space for a weekly meeting at Small Animal Veterinary Emergency & Specialty in Lebanon. They said their dogs were eagerly awaiting the chance to visit their friends. The people too.
Rodia referred to a cartoon she had seen once, saying, “If it hadn’t been for the dog park, I wouldn’t have a social life.”
Rodia’s dog Skylar, an 8-year-old West Highland White Terrier, came to Saturday’s event dressed as a cowgirl, while 8-year-old Lhasa Apso from Pendleton came as a fan of the Red Sox, although ‘she protested against wearing the helmet. and socks on her hind legs (or she was cranky after Boston was knocked out of the playoffs the night before).
Despite her protest, Emma got an honorable mention in the small dog costume contest. Third place went to a Thanksgiving-themed outfit; second to a bulldog named Lola dressed as a peacock; and first place to Louise, a 1Â½ year old Chihuahua-Cocker Spaniel mix, who wore a saddle and rider.
Louise trained to wear her costume at home ahead of the event, said her owner, Courtney Devers, from western Lebanon. She tried on other costumes first, including a skeleton and a sombrero, but “she wouldn’t have wanted to,” Devers said.
In the big dog competition honorable mentions went to a postman and Waldo from the Where’s Waldo? series of books. Third place went to a cow; second to a dragon and first to a hot dog.
Prize bags included gift certificates for local pet stores, as well as various dog-themed trinkets. Dog owner Bill Stearns, who Bunnell described as “the most honest guy I can think of,” served as a judge for the contest.
The winning hot dog was a 6 year old American Basset Hound named Myla.
âShe loves clothes,â said owner Linda Fadden of South Royalton.
Fadden said after spending the last winter in South Carolina, Myla was “very excited to be back at the dog park.”
Fadden is also an enthusiastic supporter of the park and made baked goods – carrot cake, banana bread, crispy rice treats, and cupcakes – for the event in hopes of inspiring additional donations.
âWe are very lucky to have it,â she said of the park.
Olivia McClelland, chief groomer at Muddy Paws Dog Grooming in western Lebanon, was also on hand to inspire donations, who offered canine pedicures to support the park.
âIt’s a good community here,â said McClelland, a Hartford resident who owns three dogs. It’s “very nice” and “very, very cool”.
Nora Doyle-Burr can be reached at [email protected] or 603-727-3213.