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Dogs rule the roost at annual festival

CARDIFF-BY-THE-SEA — The signal to summer’s impending end commenced Aug. 8, as canines of all shapes and sizes took over a portion of downtown. The fourth annual Dog Days of Summer brought approximately 3,000 attendees to Aberdeen Drive and Newcastle Avenue — many of them waging their tales in delight.
According to attendee Daren Simon, the event was a success. “Most of the dogs are incredibly well-behaved and there is something for everyone here,” he said. Lawrence Jones, who recently moved to Cardiff, brought his dog Sascha to the event for the first time. “It’s nice to see a community put this much effort into recognizing how important dogs are to people,” he said.
Indeed, the Cardiff 101 Chamber of Commerce sponsored event rolled out the red carpet for pooches. In addition to a challenging obstacle course, canines participated in a variety of contests with titles ranging from “Best Kisser” and “Cutest Puppy” to “Dog-Owner Look Alike” and “Best Dressed.”
Vendors hawked products and services aimed specifically at the four-legged set. Carol Alway displayed her custom “Warholized” dog portraits. The unique custom paintings add a flair of pop culture to the usual doggy picture. “People love these,” Alway said, pointing to a few of the portrait exhibits.
Alway was joined by her pampered pooch Skootch, a 10-year-old dog she rescued last year. “She’d been living in a truck for four years eating burritos,” Always said. “I had to have most of her teeth pulled, but she’s doing great now as you can see.”
Several area animal rescue organizations were on hand to offer tips on adopting the right pet to fit the particular personality of its owner. Melissa Heeter gave lectures throughout the day offering advice on how to train and care for dogs.
The day began with a special blessing for all of the pooches by a Tibetan monk. His holy water and flower petals were bestowed on the attendees as he chanted. “That was definitely a cool thing to do,” said Shari Mullings, whose Dalmatian puppy, Spot, tried to eat the flowers. “He was pretty calm until the petals started flying through the air,” Mullings chuckled.
Between ritual blessings and obstacle courses, dogs were treated to free canine massages by Kristi Vipond with the Pampered Bitch. The atmosphere was too hectic for some dogs to properly relax and receive the full benefit of a massage Vipond said. But Bugsy, a six year-old miniature doberman pincher, seemed content to have his hind quarters rubbed as long as he could see his owner standing nearby. “That’s the key, for most dogs to know their owner is here,” Vipond said.
To make the event more family-oriented, organizers set up a Kid Zone complete with a jumper, games and prizes and a snow cone machine.
“This is just small enough to be fun and not overwhelming for the animals or the kids,” Allison Dewitt said. With her 3-year-old son and two Boston terriers in tow, she said the event was more fun each year. “I like that it stays local,” she said. “We can walk here without the hassle of a huge crowd and find lots of fun stuff to do.”