Every dog has its day, and for Diego, a 2-year-old labradoodle mix, the obstacle course at Pet-A-Palooza Sunday was it.
“He ran the course without any prompting,” said Diego’s owner, Elk Grove City Council Member Patrick Hume. “Diego just took after the string and went right through the course. I was proud of him.”
Diego ran the course in 16.5 seconds, well below the fastest time of eight seconds. But unlike many of the other dogs, Diego ran the course unaccompanied by his owner.
Pet -A – Palooza
The obstacle course was one of the many activities featured at Pet-A-Palooza, a festival for dog owners and their pets. It was held at the Elk Grove Regional Park, the first time in Elk Grove in the event’s nine-year history. It had traditionally been held at Rusch Park in Citrus Heights.
“We had high demand to bring the event to other areas,” said Karyn Yarris, event director for Bonneville Sacramento, which organized the event. The group owns four radio stations: Now100.5, Mix96, KNCI105.1 and KHTK1140. A Pet-A-Palooza was held at William Land Park in Sacramento earlier this year in March.
An estimated 7,000 people attended the Pet-A-Palooza in Elk Grove Sunday – that’s about 1,000 more than when it was held in Citrus Heights.
“We really had a great time in Elk Grove,” said Yarris. “We had a fabulous response. The community really welcomed us.”
Pet-A-Palooza was originally conceived to encourage people to adopt more rescue animals. “We wanted to create a fun, family-friendly event, and we worked to find pet attractions to have people bring their pets,” she said.
The free event in Elk Grove featured performances by the 1990s pop-rock band, Hanson, and singer Rozzi Crane, who was discovered by Adam Levine of Maroon 5.
Other sponsors of the event included: Elk Grove Suburu, SMUD, VCA Animal Hospitals, the city of Elk Grove, Consumnes Community Services District (CSD), Pooch Sitters, Pet Club, Lasher Auto Group, Republic Services, and Camp Bow Wow.
Hume had initially planned to take part in the Wag n Walk, Elk Grove’s annual 1.4 mile walk for residents and their dogs to raise money for the city’s Animal Services. However, he had missed the start time (9:30 a.m.) for the one-hour walk, and wound up checking the nearby festival.
“I went around to see the vendors, and enjoyed seeing all the other folks with their pets,” he said.
One of the activities which he enjoyed watching was the dog diving contest. That’s where dogs are encouraged to chase after a thrown tennis ball and see how far they can dive into a pool of water.
“It was great – some of the dogs were more eager than others,” said Hume. “Some had to be coaxed into the water and trying to give their dogs new experiences.”
He said he didn’t enter Diego, a 2 year old labradoodle, into the event. “I have a pool in the backyard, and he’s reluctant to go in unless I hold him and carry him with me.”
Hume didn’t plan on entering Diego into the obstacle course, just watch. But he reconsidered after seeing other dogs go through the course, which consisted of tunnels to go under, rooftops and pipes to go over, and hoops to go through.
“Diego likes to play ball and chase squirrels, and I wanted to see if he was able to do it,” said Hume.
Another member of the Elk Grove City Council who also checked out Pet-A-Palooza was Vice Mayor Darren Suen, who went with his teenaged daughter, Lauren and 9 year old chocolate Labrador, Gunner.
Wag n Walk
The trio did half the Wag n Walk, as Lauren got to the venue late. They were among the 111 walkers and 125 dogs who took part in the walk, now in its third year.
“It’s part of the ‘join the movement’ campaign,” said Jodie Moreno, community events coordinator for Elk Grove who organized the walk. “We want to encourage people to have a healthy lifestyle and to help raise funds for the future animal shelter.”
The entry fee for the walk was $15, and between registration fees and sponsors, the event raised over $5,000. The money will go into a fund set up to support the new animal shelter’s future operations, and to purchase items like pet food, blankets, and other creature comforts for the animals. Last year, the event raised $4,000.
“It’s been steadily growing as more people hear about it,” said Moreno of the walk. “It’s more than double from the first year, when we only had 50 people.”
Participants in the walk around Elk Grove Regional Park got a free tie-dyed T-shirt along with a pet food scoop engraved with the name of Elk Grove at registration. As they made their way along the walk, residents picked up free items from sponsors at various “paws” stops.
Pet Club sponsored a bone bar, where walkers can pick up free treats for their pets. Petco had a free bag of goodies, and VCA was handing out tennis balls and poop bags. Camp Bow Wow had a photo wall, and Pooch Sitters had corn hole games, where the prizes were dog treats.
“People were so happy to be there, and the dogs were happy to be there,” said Moreno. “We had lots of tails wagging.”
The walk was only 50 yards from the events at Pet-A-Palooza, so after finishing Wag n Walk, participants can wander over to check out the festival.
“We just appreciated the partnership with the radio stations,” said Moreno. “It was fantastic to be there together that day.”
Suen said he, his daughter and his dog wandered through Pet-A-Palooza for a couple of hours.
“It was an honor to have them,” he said of Elk Grove hosting Pet-A-Palooza. “It’s the largest free event for pets in northern California. It was a really good event, and we’re a pet friendly city. It let folks get out with their furry friends. It was great.”
Neither Hume nor Suen stayed long enough at Pet-A-Palooza to hear Hanson or Rozzi perform, as both had other events that they had to attend in the afternoon.
“I was kind of surprised,” said Hume of the festival getting Hanson to perform. “They have not been in the forefront of people’s minds, but they were definitely a known entity.”
Hume said he would like to see Pet-A-Palooza come back to Elk Grove in the near future, and he would also make more of an effort to participate in the Wag n Walk next year to promote the new animal shelter.
New Animal Shelter
The City of Elk Grove broke ground on the new $17.8 million animal shelter in April, and trench work for the utilities has started, according to Stephany Carlson, deputy project manager with Elk Grove’s public works department. The project is expected to be finished by July, 2019. When opened, the new shelter can house up to 66 dogs and 56 cats.
“We have the facility under construction, but for any shelter to operate effectively, it needs a large army of volunteers, and we need to get that out on the radar of people,” Hume said.
Pet-A-Palooza may return to Elk Grove next year, according to Yarris. The festival has the same goal as the new animal shelter – to get people to adopt rescues.
Each year, Bonneville Sacramento reaches out to local animal rescue groups to bring animals (and pictures of adoptable animals) to the event. Furthermore, over the course of nine years, Pet-A-Palooza has facilitated the adoption of more than 1,000 dogs, cats, rabbits, pot-bellied pigs and snakes. One year, horses were also offered for adoption, but there were no takers.
Residents adopted an estimated 75 to 100 animals at Pet-A-Palooza Sunday. But it will take several weeks before the paperwork can be completed and the adoptions finalized, according to Yarris. She said it was perfect how the event dovetailed with the city’s annual Wag n Walk.
“We had a really great day,” she said. “We really thankful that Elk Grove welcomed us. It was a tremendous day and we look forward to next year.”