Encinitas — More than 600 people and their dogs took part in the San Diego Botanic Garden and Rancho Coastal Humane Society 5k Paw Walk at the botanic garden Feb. 22.
Walking trails were marked off, water stations were located along the course, and participants were given plastic bags for any needed clean up.
The 5k took walkers through the California, South African, Australian, Canary Islands, bamboo, subtropical fruit, herb, and Mexican garden areas.
This is the only event that allows dogs, other than service dogs, in the garden.
“They can enjoy the walk and take in the plants and botanic beauty,” Sam Beukema, San Diego Botanic Garden education and events manager, said.
San Diego Botanic Garden and Rancho Coastal Humane Society are neighbors on Quail Gardens Drive.
Last year they held the first 5k as a mutual fundraiser. The positive response from participants prompted them to make the walk an annual event.
“From my own observation they were very, very happy people and by the wags of the tails I could tell the dogs were happy,” Beukema said.
Participants share the love of dogs and the outdoors.
“It was also an opportunity to reach out to some folks who don’t go somewhere on Saturday without their dogs,” Beukema said. “They could enjoy the garden with their animal.”
Many participants like to socialize with fellow dog owners in order to share information and give dogs the opportunity to play together.
“It brings the community together to enjoy the outdoors,” Nick Winfrey, community liaison of Rancho Coastal Humane Society, said. “Eighty percent of Encinitas residents own pets.”
Julie Kirtland, of Encinitas, walked the 5k with her golden retriever Clover. She is a member of a golden retriever meetup group that gets together for events and play dates.
“It’s a real joy watching them interact,” Kirtland said.
At the end of the 5k course a meetup area was set up with 20 pet related venders and nonprofit groups.
Rancho Coastal Humane Society shared information on its pet adoptions, volunteer opportunities and programs.
The humane society holds education classes, therapy dog visits and serves as an animal safehouse for pets of domestic violence victims.
Freedom Dogs let people know about its program that matches active duty wounded military with service dogs.
Some service dogs stay with a service member until they rehabilitate and return to active duty.
Other service dogs are lifetime service dogs that remain with the service member forever.
Ruff Life Spaw introduced dog owners to their mobile dog grooming service.
Zoom Room training center had an agility course set up for dogs.
Trainers were on hand to guide dogs over jumps, between poles and through tunnels. There were also plenty of treats to encourage dogs to complete the course.
Diane Hutchinson, of Encinitas, took her three-month-old border collie Spencer through the agility course.
Spencer has also participated in Zoom Room puppy agility classes at the center.
“It’s a dog that needs mental stimulation,” Hutchinson said. “Chasing a ball is not always going to do it for them.”
Hutchinson said the class is a workout for Spencer.
“He comes home and falls asleep.”
There were also veterinary services, pet sitters, pet photography, and pet friendly landscaping services at the event.