Caninesí time to shine at annual Mutt Strut
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By Natalie Gray  September 27, 2013 12:00 am

By Natalie Gray

It’s the time of parades in Rohnert Park, and in case you missed the Founders Day parade last weekend, you can still catch the next this Saturday, Sept. 28, at the Community Center – well, sort of.

The Rohnert Park Animal Shelter is hosting its fourth annual Mutt Strut, a walk-a-thon and pet fair that acts as the shelter’s largest fundraiser of the year. The event will be complete with dog-friendly venders, a series of events for pet parents and children and training demos. And, of course, the main event will be the one-mile long dog walk and, though it is not truly a parade, with the promise of dogs in costumes and pooches of every shape and size, it should be just as fun to watch as it will be to walk in.

According to Mickey Zeldes, shelter supervisor, the Mutt Strut is a fundraiser completely unique to the Rohnert Park Animal Shelter and was designed with the community in mind. It gives the town, neighbors and friends a chance to come out for the day and not only spend time with their four-legged best friends, but also get to know the local shelter on a personal level. 

Dog owners (or “parents” as they are warmly referred to at the shelter) are invited to this unique and fun opportunity to help out the shelter that has helped out so many animals, probably some of their own pets in the past.

The general idea of the Mutt Strut is not too far from a human-only marathon; dog ‘parents’ and supports can register to be part of a walking team and start raising sponsorship funds, all of which will then be donated to the shelter. Registration opened in August and this Saturday all those teams and individual fundraisers alike will get together with their dog “children” to participate in the celebratory walk alongside Copeland Creek. If you do not have a dog to walk in the walk-a-thon, you can still participate by donating money to another team and are welcome to show up at the event to help celebrate.

“(It’s) not complicated,” said Zeldes. “It’s going to be so much fun…a fundraiser for the whole family. This is the money that helps us do all the extra things (for the shelter and pets) that we want to do.”

The walk might be the event headliner, but it is by no means the only event and, depending on your interests, may not even be the main event. At the celebration will also be multitude of fun demos from dog safety for children (human ones, this time), to how-to for training pets. There will be a few friendly contests, like best costume, best trick and adorable “Kid’s Best Friend.”

The largest, most celebrated contest of the day, though, will be that of the top individual fundraiser-earner, with a prize of having their dog being next year’s Mutt Strut’s “Spokespup,” an honor that will see their pup’s fluffy face on posters and advertisements. 

Last year’s winner was Cheryll Currier with her dog Jazz. Overall donations given to the shelter from fundraising endeavors was more than $1,500, and Zeldes said the shelter’s goal this year is to beat that record.

Also at the event will be Cotati Police’s K9 Unit with Officer Christopher Kaupe and Koda to perform a live demo of a police dog in action. Three authors will be present for a meet-and-greet and book signing of their dog-related books; Camilla Gray-Nelson and Margie Cantwell will sign their dog-training books “Lipstick and the Leash” and “Good Puppy Academics,” and Kristina Ashley will be available to sign her book “The Rescue.”

To top the day off, there will be a parade featuring shelter “alumni” of dogs adopted from the shelter with their new families.

The Mutt Strut will begin at 10 a.m. at the Rohnert Park Community Center. The event is open to the public and their crowd-friendly dogs, but all other animals will have to stay at home. For more information, go to the shelter’s webpage or like them on Facebook. 

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