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Woofstock brings dog lovers, pets out to Sedgwick County Park

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010, at 3:42 p.m.
  • Updated Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010, at 12:55 p.m.

Big dogs, little dogs. Dogs of all shapes, sizes, colors and breeds.

Most were tugging on their leashes in excitement, yipping and barking to encourage their masters to step up the pace.

It was that kind of day Saturday at Sedgwick County Park for the 13th annual Woofstock, the main fundraiser for the Kansas Humane Society, sponsored in part by The Wichita Eagle.

“You’re always stopping and asking, ‘What kind of dog is that?’æ” said Edwina Saph, who had Polly, a golden retriever-great Pyrenees mix, in tow. “It’s a lot of fun.”

The event drew 17,000, equal to last year’s turnout, said Jennifer Campbell, spokeswoman for the Humane Society.

The event raised about $200,000, including $17,000 from a silent auction, she said. The goal had been $230,000. But Campbell was encouraged, especially considering the economic times.

“We’re honored people came out and gave so generously,” she said. While the 100 or so vendors had wares and services largely catering to dog owners, the pooches weren’t left out.

Where else could they go and get a free, colorful bandanna tied around their necks?

There were races that matched same size dogs, contests for the best-dressed dog, musical chairs and a water retrieval exercise.

It was a perfect fall day — sunny skies, temperatures in the mid-60s — for it to happen. Wind gusts played havoc with vendors’ canopies, but that didn’t seem to bother the dogs.

“It’s pretty crazy,” said Ryan Schauf, 13. “I think she likes it a lot.” That would be Cheyenne. Ryan and his parents, Brett and Cheryl Schauf, adopted the female black miniature pinscher mix from the Humane Society in August.

In the Paws & Play Kids Zone, Cheyenne wasn’t interested in nosing around for a treat lightly buried in a sand-filled plastic pool. But she didn’t seem to mind having her paw stuck in paint and put on a sheet of paper for a keepsake.

“We’re going to put her in a race,” Cheryl Schauf said. “She’s pretty quick.”

One of this year’s new vendors was Animal Reiki Therapy. For a $10 donation, Conrad Jestmore was applying the method to the dogs, and sometimes the owner at the same time.

“It’s energy transference, basically through laying on of hands,” said Jestmore, who has had the business in Wichita for about two years and volunteers his services at the Humane Society twice a week. “Animals, unlike humans, have no preconceived ideas and readily accept the energy.”

Susan Fairchild and Koda, a lab and German shepherd mix, took part in the therapy. She sat in a chair with Koda at her feet, while Conrad put his hands on her shoulders and his wife, Donna, put her hands on Koda.

“It was kind of relaxing to chill for a moment,” Fairchild said after the session. “You don’t really feel anything, but for some reason you’re relaxed. I just sat there and let the flow go.

“I have a very stressful job — I work at Hawker Beechcraft. Anytime I can sit down and relax, it’s good.”

Sean and Kristen Deenihan were joined by their almost 2-year-old daughter, Madison, and Maggie, a schnauzer mix.

“There’s lots of free stuff for dogs,” Kristen said before turning to her daughter and saying, “Oh, Madison, look at the pretty dog.”

Tim Irwin, a volunteer for Big Dogs Huge Paws — a rescue for giant breeds —was being pulled by two black-and-white spotted great Danes — half sisters Ladybug and Lollipop, who were 16 and 14 months old, respectively.

Ladybug was rescued by Irwin’s girlfriend, Lauren Bartlett, from a Kansas puppy mill that has since been shut down. Bartlett also adopted Lollipop after a Colorado family decided it couldn’t afford to keep such a large dog.

“People get these dogs when they’re 10 pounds as a puppy, then a year later they’re 100 pounds and still growing,” Irwin said.

That’s why they won’t allow someone to adopt one of the group’s dogs if they don’t have experience with giant breeds.

“We turn down more applicants than we approve,” Irwin said. “We don’t want the dogs going back to a bad situation.”

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