The Duncan Banner

September 22, 2013

Dog day afternoon

Mike Smith
The Duncan Banner

DUNCAN — If every dog has its day, well, Saturday couldn’t have been better.

 The skies were sunny, the breeze was cool and Fuqua Park was packed with smiling faces and wagging tails.

 Bark in the Park, the biggest fundraiser of the year for the Stephens County Humane Society, was a smashing success all the way around.

“This is the best crowd we’ve ever had, the best weather we’ve ever had and hopefully the most money we’ve ever raised for these shelter pets,” said event organizer Patti Whitaker. “Every time you hear an air horn that means an adoption.”

After just an hour into the four-hour event, the horn had sounded five times — four times for dogs that had been adopted from the Humane Society shelter and one for a cat. They would soon be off to new homes.

Many folks who showed — and there were too many to count — had rescued the dogs they brought with them.

Brian and Beverly Murphy of Duncan were accompanied by their dogs Denali and Yukon. The dogs were on leashes while 18-month-old Kinsley Brown, a girl the Murphy’s were baby-sitting, rode along in a stroller — gazing up at some big dogs and looking down at the small ones.

The Murphy’s found Yukon, a small, Shepherd mix, under a bridge in Tennessee several years ago. She was among five pups left there in a large, plastic container to fend for themselves and probably die had the Murphys not found them.

“They still had their eyes closed,” Brian Murphy said. “Now he (Yukon) will be 7-years-old. You couldn’t ask for a better dog.”

There were contests throughout the day, including weenie dog races. The dachshunds were called to their starting positions with the same blaring horn-announcement heard when horses are called to the starting gate at the Kentucky Derby.

At a dog-and-a-half long and half-a-dog high, the dachshunds weren’t nearly as big as thoroughbreds, not nearly as fast. They didn’t cost tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars, either, but to the folks who brought them, they are priceless.

Pickle won the first weenie dog race and was hoisted into the air by a delighted Megan Holloway of Marlow. She found Pickle seven years ago wandering around homeless at a convenience store.

“I’m so proud of her,” Holloway said. “We’ve been practicing at this. I’ll stand on one side of the yard and she stands on the other and then she runs.”

There were 15 entrants in the Best Dog Trick contest. Some rolled over, one danced in circles at the sight of a cheese slice, one sneezed on command. Bullet, an 11-year-old black lab, let a treat rest on his nose then flipped it up into his mouth when 6-year-old Tommy Miller of Marlow said it was OK.

“He’s been working on this for awhile,” said Tommy’s dad, Ray Miller. He meant Tommy, because several years ago, Bullet already had the treat-on-the-nose gig down.

Some dogs were going to do something special, but well, they got stage fright. They got just as much applause, however.

It was hard to tell who was having more fun, the dogs or people. Both categories came in all sizes.

There were tall dogs and short dogs, giant dogs and tiny dogs, skinny dogs and yes, some fat ones, too.

One was so hefty, it promoted an event announcer to say over the microphone, “That dog looks awfully big. You sure he didn’t eat one of the younger ones here?”

Last year’s Bark in the Park raised more than $35,000 for the Stephens County Humane Society, whose workers and volunteers - with lots of help from people all over Stephens County - rescue and feed and shelter dogs and cats and find them homes.

Folks who want to help can call the society at 580-252-7387 or go to www.stephenscountyshelter.com - the group’s website.