Every September, the Baltimore Humane Society hosts DogFest, their biggest annual fundraiser. People bring their dogs to participate in a dog walk and other festival activities, such as the Biggest Dog Contest, Best Dressed Contest, and more.
Goucher’s Community Based Learning animal welfare program is partnered with the BHS, and they help out every year at DogFest and other events they hold.
Kathryn Vajda, ‘19, who has attended DogFest for the past two years, says, “It’s a great way for volunteers to learn more about the Humane Society before working with the animals there. It’s been an amazing way for myself and other students to learn about the different pieces that go into supporting animal welfare groups and non-profit organizations.”
Every year, the volunteers are different. One such first-timer, Rachel Haslett, ‘19, comments, “This has probably been the best day I’ve had thus far this semester. There were so many dogs. I got to pet so many dogs I lost count.”
Dogs of every shape and size were spotted at DogFest. Java, an Irish Wolfhound, was an immediate favorite among her canine companions. She and her owner sat on a bench close to the Walk-a-Thon volunteer table, allowing everyone who came through a pat. Later on, Java was spotted making friends with a golden labradoodle named Chelsea.
“Java is one of the biggest dogs I’ve ever seen in my life, but my favorites will always be the Huskies and Samoyeds. I love seeing my favorite breeds and can’t wait to own one myself someday,” said Haslett.
Other than contests, there were a variety of activities for dogs to take part in. There was a pool where dogs could swim in, fit with lifejackets and a handler in the pool to help with dogs who couldn’t swim well. There was also a tetherball available for the dogs.
“There was a bulldog who was ready to chase that ball until she collapsed. The owner kept trying to get her to leave but she was having too much fun. Eventually the owner had to carry her away,” says Paige Harris, ‘19, who also attended the event the first time this semester.
In addition, there was a ball throwing station, where owners could play fetch with their pets. There were also a multitude of vendors at DogFest, including a German Shepherd rescue group, artists, and dog-treat makers. One booth also sported a small blue-grey kitten who drew attention from many festival goers. Another non-canine guest that garnered a lot of attention was Darwin the tortoise. He arrived early to the festival in his own trailer, wearing a purple bandana to match the black and purple trailer.
Another interesting aspect of the festival is its costume contest. Though there were many beautifully dressed dogs, some of the most memorable costumes were the black lab dressed as Superman, a cream-colored dog dressed as Supergirl, the gaggle of pugs wearing tiaras, and a mutt dressed as a sailor.
“I’m definitely going next year,” says Haslett. “It was so much fun. I love being able to see so many dogs and pet them. It was definitely the best day I’ve had in a long time.”
Though DogFest has come and gone, there are still plenty of BHS events to go to this year.