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Wiggly Wag & Walk was fun for pooches and people

By Earleen Hinton

General Manager

Betty dazzled the crowd with her quick turns and steady eye.

Ruby didn’t complain when she was asked to give a nine-year-old Oregon girl a wagon ride and completely ignored Daphne’s continuous shout outs to everyone and anyone.

Topher was not amused when the water-misting fire hydrant mussed up her hairdo, and all Abby really wanted was to lie on her back in the shade and have her belly rubbed.

Such were the lives of the canine participants at the Oregon Park District’s Wiggly Wag & Walk last week.

Eighty-five dogs with their significant others in tow took part in the second annual event July 16 at the park district’s Wiggly Field Dog Park.

“We just heard about the event and the park after we took classes at Maestoso Kennels,” said Amy Ewald, Byron, who attended the event with her daughter Brooke and their dogs Buster and Sophie. “We are really glad we came because there are a lot of dogs here and it is a good place to let them socialize.”

The event included demonstrations with dogs, special vendors, a 2-mile Hound Walk through Oregon Park West, and a lot of greet and licks.

John and Connie Seraphine of Heatherhope Farm, Sycamore, gave three performances of sheep herding demonstrations by their border collies.

“These sheep know which dog is working them,” said Connie as John directed a dog. “They are not dumb.”

John talked about his dogs Cap, Abbie, and Betty as they adeptly followed his commands or whistles to herd the farm’s five North Country Cheviot sheep.

“Their hearing is very good,” he said. “Once they’ve learned the words it only takes about a half an hour to put whistles with them. It’s actually a good thing to have your dogs on different whistles because then it is easier to work them together.”

He said one of dogs was so smart she learned the other dogs’ whistle commands in addition to her own.

“The only problem was she’s so clever she learned all the other dogs’ whistles,” he said.

Dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds from Pat Mandernach’s Sensa-Able Dog Training, Dixon, showed how well they listened to their human counterparts.

“She’s 4 and he’s 3,” said Janice Garren, Dixon, after she helped guide Reina and Blaze through some of the dog obstacles.

Ruby, a short-haired St. Bernard and another of Mandernach’s students, willingly pulled nine-year-old Shay Banister in a wagon. She ignored repeated barking by Daphne, a puppy, who was just trying to be sociable.

Meanwhile, Topher, a Yorkie owned by Lindsey Smidt, Oregon, didn’t appreciate the water spray she got when she sniffed the park’s fire hydrant.

State police K-9 Officer Michael Steele also showed the crowd how his partner Ogre, a three-year-old Belgian malinois, could sniff out drugs.

Steele placed 4 boxes on the ground and Ogre quickly found the one containing the drugs—all for the reward of his chew toy, a piece of old fire hose.

Obi-Wan, a Chesapeake Bay retriever, owned by Rachel Pederson, Oregon, watched Ogre through the fence, yawned, and stretched out by Erin Pederson, Rachel’s sister.

Dax, an eight-year-old Anatolian shepherd, stood quietly as his owner, Deb Daleiden, talked about how he was a rescue dog turned therapy dog.

“I’ve had him since he was five months old,” she said.

“I like the doggy,” added Aiden Askam, age 6, from Oregon as he patted Dax on the head.

Jan Champley’s labradoodle, Abby, was happy to flop on her back while Lydia Cermak and Gabi Scott rubbed her bellly.

“She was abandoned, wasn’t microchipped, and was running loose,” said Champley, whose husband Tom is an Oregon veterinarian and Ogle County Animal Control Administrator. “A dog catcher brought her in. She’s such a nice dog. When we were trying to decide what color she was, I said ‘she’s a blonde with apricot highlights.’ ”

Organizer Debbie Leffelman said temperatures in the low 70s made for a perfect climate for the event.

“The weather was beautiful,” said Leffelman. “We thank everyone, people and pooches, for coming.”

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