Mutts strut their stuff for pet park

Event focuses on raising money for the only off-leash dog park in Whitman County



A group of Basset hounds enjoy some puppy frappuccinos upon arrival to the Mutt Strutt event on Saturday afternoon at Reaney Park.

EMMA LEDBETTER, Evergreen reporter

The dogs of Pullman were out in full force Saturday afternoon at Reaney Park for the 11th annual Mutt Strutt.

Mutt Strutt, which raised money for Pooch Park, is a dog-friendly festival. Pooch Park is the only off-leash dog park in Whitman County and is managed by the Whitman County Humane Society. 

Despite the rain and cold weather on Saturday, participants were wagging their tails through the entire event, and their humans were smiling beneath their jackets and hats. 

“There’s not a lot of events in Pullman that dogs can go to, and so this is really special to me because we get to see all of our furry friends and bring them with us to an event,” said Kellie Klein, one of the organizers of Mutt Strutt. 

The dogs ranged in size and breed from the smallest of Chihuahuas and Pomeranians to the largest Dalmatians and Newfoundlands. Pups wore raincoats, sweaters and Halloween costumes and posed for pictures with attendees at fall photo booths set up in the park. 

Vendors around the park advertised dog-themed products, including treats, paw print bandanas, grooming services and pet medication. Booths had free swag for the dogs and their owners in attendance. 

“We have amazing vendors,” Klein said. “By doing your $20 registration, you’re actually probably getting more than $20 worth of gear.”

The competition portion of the event officially kicked off with musical chairs, followed by the best smile competition. Luke, a keeshond, won best smile.

Keeshonds have a quality where they curl their upper lip when they get excited or feel guilty, said Janet Collar, who brought Luke to the event. His owners attributed their win to making him feel guilty about jumping. 

Later in the event, pups showed off all varieties of costumes for the costume contest, from Wonder Woman to a tiger. 

Jenny Neuburger, a regular Mutt Strutt attendee, brought her 10 Basset hounds in her “Basset Waggin’” minivan. Neuburger attends Mutt Strutt every year and always tries to create different costumes for her dogs, she said. 

“I just try to think of what I could make 10 of,” Neuburger said. “So, this year they’re mermaids … or ‘merdogs.’” 

The Whitman County Humane Society brought several dogs to the event that were available for adoption. Simon and Garfunkel are two Labrador retriever mixes that were at the event wearing “Adopt Me” vests. 

“[Mutt Strutt] is just a really good community event,” said Sarah Whitley, a volunteer at the event and clinical assistant professor in the department of sociology. “If people didn’t know very much about the Humane Society, they have the chance to come out here and learn a little bit more about them.” 

Though the event is meant primarily to fundraise for improvements at Pooch Park, it also helps spread awareness about adoptable animals at the Humane Society. 

“It’s an all-around win if you come to the event,” Klein said. “By supporting the event, they’re supporting Pooch Park, which is supporting their dog.”

Nine-week-old Juster, left, is dressed as a baby lion and Alphosonse, right, as a tiger on Saturday at Reaney Park.