If You Love Dogs, Gather Your Pack and Come on Out for a Fun Day

By Joe Darby
If, like me, you are quite fond of little furry critters with warm loving eyes, waggy tails and cold wet noses, you may want to start planning for a special day.

Yes of course I’m talking to you, dog lovers.   On Saturday, April 23, the Natchitoches Hope for Paws group will have a fund-raising Dog Show at Parc Natchitoches, 4515 University Parkway.  All kinds of fun events will be held, which I’ll get into in a moment.

I have a special place in my heart for this rescue organization, which has saved almost one thousand dogs in recent years.  It’s special to me because it was Hope for Paws from which I got my lovable little Baby, a poodle-terrier mix, two and a half years ago.  Baby is not only just about the most loving dog I’ve ever had – and I’ve had lots of sweeties — but she provides a living link to my beloved wife Mary, who passed away eight months ago. 

The day we adopted Baby from NHFP, Mary was already having moderate to severe memory problems with the onset of her dementia, but she still knew pretty much what was going on and she was delighted to have Baby become a member of our household.  I have included a photo taken of us just minutes after Baby entered our home.  You can see it was a happy trio.  I remember distinctly that more than a year later, when Mary’s mind was becoming more clouded, Baby was sitting in Mary’s lap and my dear wife looked at her and said, “She’s just precious.”

And Baby is that.  Anyway, unless the Lord is not willin’ and the creek rises, Baby and I will be at the fund-raising dog show next weekend.  Principal events will include an obedience contest, a runway show, in which the pups will get to show themselves off — wearing costumes, if they so choose — and a treat-finding contest.  Baby will enter the latter competition.  If she can sniff out hidden treats like she can sniff out hamburger wrappers in a trash can, I expect she will open as an early favorite in that game.  As for the obedience contest, I will, er, I’ll just leave that open for you folks.  There will be a $5 fee per dog to enter each event.  Pretty reasonable, I think.

Registration may be accomplished online, at natchitocheshopeforpaws.org/dogshow.  Or you may arrive as early as 11 a.m. at Parc Natchitoches on the 23rd to register.  The fun and games will get underway at noon and will continue to about 3 p.m.  A silent auction will be conducted throughout the afternoon.
As of Wednesday of this week, the day this column was written,  NHFP has rescued 972 dogs since it was founded in 2009, said Kay Kaufman, vice-president of the group.  What a great service they have performed.  Of those dogs taken in, 629 were adopted locally and another 317 were provided to similar rescue agencies out of town, Kay said.  There are currently 26 pooches on hand now, eagerly awaiting for a great new permanent home.
There will be plenty of members of the group at the dog show to answer questions about adoption.  All of their dogs are spayed or neutered, have been checked for heart worms and have computer chips implanted to identify them if they stray from home.

NHFP is a non-profit organization that avoids euthanizing animals unless the dog is gravely ill at the time of its rescue.  Like any loving pet owner who cares about a dog’s comfort, the group will euthanize only as a last resort.

Sound like an outfit that you can admire?   Well, as you surely must have gathered, I sure do.  So come on out and see if your pup can beat Baby’s time in the treat-finding contest.  Let’s all just hope that the 23rd won’t be one of those days which sees one of these severe storms that have been coming through with such regularity.

Oh, one more thing.  Say, Kay.  Would it be cheating if I start to hide treats around my house this week, to get my little sniffer in a competitive mode?  Good, I didn’t think so.