Mutts to play for donated prizes

Mutt Strut contributes to Pooch Park funding, dogs can participate in multiple activities, contests, games


MICHAEL LINDER | Evergreen Photo Illustration

Zoey, a mini Australian shepherd, plays with her flying disc. Pooch Park is the only off-leash dog park on the Palouse. The park offers a dog tunnel, park benches, shaded areas and a fire hydrant that sprays water when the dogs approach it.

GABRIELLA RAMOS, Evergreen editor-in-chief

Mary Lauver’s Welsh corgi, Martin Luther Lauver, or Marty, is the two-time reigning champion of the Doggy Bob, a competition in which pooches bob for hotdogs.

The 7-year-old pup’s competitive nature led him to first place in the hotdog-eating contest and second place in Peanut Butter Spoons.

“I don’t know if I should be worried that my dog’s a glutton, but he is,” said Lauver, community member and Mutt Strut attendee.

This year, Lauver said Marty may not be able to return and defend his title at Mutt Strut 2017 on Saturday, giving other canines the opportunity to win prizes donated by the event’s vendors and sponsors.

Mutt Strut is an annual fundraiser to support Pooch Park, the Palouse’s only off-leash dog park, which is completely member-funded and self-sustaining, said Kym Darling, treasurer for the Whitman County Humane Society Board of Directors and chair of the Pooch Park and Mutt Strut Committees.

The Pooch Park Committee recognized the need for an off-leash park for dogs in the area, Darling said. The land for Pooch Park was donated, which saved the committee thousands, and the park officially opened around 2010.

Pooch Park is funded separately from the humane society, she said, and is located right next door on the Old Moscow Road. The $65-per-year membership fee helps to support the park.
Mutt Strut began nine years ago as a fun way for the community to get involved in sustaining the park, Darling said.

“Some communities have free parks because the city provides them,” she said, “but Pullman doesn’t, so that’s why we have to charge a fee.”

The Doggy Bob and Peanut Butter Spoons, a competition in which owners put the end of a spoon of peanut butter in their mouths for their dogs to lick off, have been the most popular contests at Mutt Strut for the past nine years, Darling said.

Becky Bitter, Whitman County Humane Society Board of Directors president, said Mutt Strut used to feature a costume contest, but as participation dwindled, the committee incorporated new activities in its place.

“Last year, we had 10 or 12 basset hounds, and they all showed up in costumes,” Bitter said. “It was just hysterical.”

In addition to traditional activities, Mutt Strut will host Musical Dogs, Treat Walk and an Ultimate Pet Trick contest. All activities cost $1 to participate, except for the Ultimate Pet Trick, which costs $5.

This year, Wysup Jeep, Dodge and Ram will sponsor Mutt Strut. Big Dog Agility will do an agility course demonstration during the event.

Bitter said other WSU student organizations, such as the Companion Animal Club and Cooperative University Dairy Students, have volunteered their time as vendors in the past.
“I find that students really see and understand the importance of being compassionate to creatures who, at no fault of their own, are in a bad situation,” Bitter said.

Funds from last year’s Mutt Strut went toward purchasing a fire hydrant feature that shoots water when a pup approaches it for Pooch Park. Past money has gone toward a permanent dog tunnel, park benches and shaded areas, Darling said.

“Membership fees go toward maintenance of the park, and Mutt Strut allows us to buy those fun extras,” Darling said.

Mutt Strut normally attracts around 100 attendees and more than 100 dogs each year, Darling said. Event registration is $20. Attendees can register online at the Whitman County Human Society’s website.

Mutt Strut will take place from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday in Reaney Park.

“If you like dogs at all,” Lauver said, “it’s a great day for owners and dogs.”