From Great Danes to Dachshunds, Sedalia’s four-legged friends (and their owners) were out in full force Saturday at Liberty Park for the first Bark in the Park.
The free, all-day event was a joint effort between Sedalia Parks and Recreation, Sedalia Kennel Club and the Sedalia Animal Shelter, held to educate and entertain dogs and their owners and to encourage pet adoption.
The day included activities including obedience, agility, grooming and herding demonstrations, $5 rabies vaccinations, a microchip clinic, a military working dog performance and even a pet parade with prizes for best dog costume, most patriotic and best owner/dog look-alike.
“A little education keeps these dogs out of the shelter,” said Garnetta Sullivan, vice president of the Sedalia Animal Shelter. Sullivan pointed out that Bark in the Park was timed to coincide with the American Kennel Club’s Responsible Dog Ownership Month, and she said that the day’s demonstrations and activities were meant to be both fun and instructive for pet owners.
“It’s a great family event,” she said. “They can come out and see all the aspects of dog ownership. All these things make a dog a happy, healthy family member.”
At the grooming demonstration, Sedalia Kennel Club representative Mike Zimmerscheid was hard at work teasing the hair of Gizmo, a champion West Tyler White Terrier. Two other Westies, Jack and Emmy, patiently waited their turn beside him.
“People are asking a lot of questions. I’ve given them a lot of pointers,” Zimmerscheid said. He said he was glad to see the crowd at the first-year event and hoped people would take the time to learn more about the kennel club, show dogs and dog obedience.
“It gives the public an opportunity to see how well-behaved show dogs are,” Zimmerscheid said, pointing to Gizmo and Emmy, who had been standing still and quietly for more than an hour as crowds of dogs and people passed by them. He added that the lesson to be learned was, for family pets as well as show dogs, “You can teach a dog to behave.”
Amy Epple, recreation superintendent for Sedalia Parks and Recreation, said another main goal of Bark in the Park was to raise awareness about the need for pet adoption.
“ It’s definitely been a great community effort between the kennel club and the shelter and the parks department,” Epple said. “Our goal is to just educate owners and their pets and just get some dogs adopted.”
The dogs available for adoption at the animal shelter’s booth were definitely tugging at the heartstrings of more than a few of the event’s attendees. Brandon Lozano, of Sedalia, had come to Bark in the Park without a dog of his own, but was walking a small wire-haired terrier from the shelter’s booth to see if she could be a good fit for his family.
“She’s so sweet,” said Lozano, who described himself as a long-time dog owner but said his family was currently without a pet. “My kids have been wanting one. I’ve been wanting one. It’s just a matter of getting the right one.”