Nearly 1,000 dogs are having their day in Chandler.
That’s about how many pooches are involved in Wags for Wishes, once you count the athletes, the police dogs, the performers, the therapy helpers and the pets, estimates Wendy Hultsman, organizer of the event taking place through Sunday at Rawhide Western Town and Steakhouse.
Wags for Wishes is a dog-centric fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona, the group that grants the wishes of ill children. A massive dog extravaganza, it brings attention to the numerous roles dogs can play, from partners in law enforcement to companions for the sick.
“It’s just hours and hours of fun,” says Hultsman. “We’re showing lots of different things everyday people can do with their dogs, to have fun with their dogs, and there are tournaments going on in flyball, agility and dock diving.”
There are also demonstrations by dogs that specialize in everything from catching Frisbees to dancing in costume.
Hultsman says pets are welcome to join the fun, provided they’re well-mannered, current on vaccinations and fixed.
“Anyone — any dog — can come out and try the dock diving, do the herding test on sheep or goats, do Lure For A Cure — where they chase a coyote tail on a cable through a maze. They can try canine freestyle, which is obedience to music.”
Wags for Wishes has raised more than $60,000 for Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona in its three years of existence. This is the first year the event has come to the East Valley.
Hultsman says about 40 percent of money raised through ticket sales and activity fees will be donated to Make-A-Wish Foundation of Arizona; the organizers receive no profit.
Things to do with your dog at Wags for Wishes on Sunday:
For an extra fee of $5 to $20, depending on the activity, your dog can get in on the fun and maybe even earn an official certificate:
>> At the National Canine Cancer Foundation’s Lure For A Cure, your dog chases an exciting (to a dog, anyway) object around a course. Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
>> Test your dog’s herding instincts at the Arizona Herding Association area, where dogs are exposed to sheep or goats. Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
>> Water-loving dogs might excel at the Splash Dogs dock diving pool, where pooches launch themselves off a platform and into the water. Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
>> See how your dog measures up in manners and temperament tests from the American Kennel Club’s Canine Good Citizen program and Therapy Dogs International. Available 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Sunday's schedule of events
>> Competitions: Seasoned canine athletes compete in flyball, agility and diving contests throughout the day, starting at 9 a.m.
>> Arizona Herding Association: The group shows off what herding breeds do best. 9:30 a.m. and 12:50 p.m.
>> Protection and obedience demonstrations: Dogs and trainers from Sit Means Sit Dog Training perform techniques and commands including “search and hold,” “escape bite” and the “courage test.” 9:45 a.m. and 1 p.m.
>> Great Dane Drill Team: The group of gentle giants and their owners perform their synchronized routine. 10:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
>> Childsplay: Arizona’s professional theater for young audiences hosts activities and crafts themed around “Go, Dog. Go!,” their upcoming production based on the kids’ book by the same name. 10:30 a.m.
>> Chandler K-9 Unit: Visit with police dogs and the officers who consider them partners. 11:45 a.m.
>> Nose work demonstration: See dogs perform searches. 11:45 a.m.
>> Frisbee demonstration: 12:15 p.m.
>> Canine Musical Freestylers: The group that practices dog obedience set to music shares moves and teaching techniques. 12:30 p.m.
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