Dogs, people frolic in the park

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Autumn McLaughlin holds the leash of Wally, a 1-year-old Plott hound mix, as he searches for dog treats while participating in a treasure hunt game Saturday during the eighth annual Paws in the Park at Best Friend's Dog Park. Wally is available for adoption at Riverside Veterinary Hospital.


Staff Writer

Sunday, April 15, 2018

For the active ones, there was an agility section, a fashion show, open fields and frisbee catching.

For Herman, there was a bench, a cloud-less sunshine and a nice breeze.

Even with all the dog-centric commotion happening around him at the eighth annual Paws in the Park event Saturday at Best Friend’s Dog Park, the 9-year-young Olde English Bulldogge looked content as could be sitting with his owner, RT Overby, watching a nice day go by.

Besides, he doesn’t get out as much as he used to.

“He’s a house dog — just loves the indoors. He’s not an outdoor dog,” Overby said while looking down at his companion, who was looking up at him, panting. “I bring him here every year. He just loves to come here and sit down and see the other dogs. Little dogs, big dogs, he just likes being around them.”

The good news for Herman: There were plenty of them.

It’s an event that’s grown every year since it’s initial showing in 2010. In 2015, it moved from Sunset Park to the newly-opened Best Friend’s Park. Last year, the event added the Dare Devil Dogs, a travelling show of acrobatic pups run by dog enthusiast and nine-time kanine owner Laura Moretz.

One of her older ones, Monster, a 10-year-old Mini Australian Shepherd mix, is the group’s veteran. Although in semi-retirement, he performed first, catching frisbees like a true professional.

“We’re not asking him to do a whole lot more than that,” Moretz said. “He’s had a lot lighter of a year than in the past.”

The event’s organizer, Alex Langley, who also works for the city of Rocky Mount, has been coming since 2012. In that first year, one of his dogs took home first place in the best trick competition, due in-part to a well-executed ‘play dead’ routine. He got pulled onto the committee a year later, and took over in 2015.

From a preparation standpoint, he said, setting up for the day takes a lot of hours, mostly by community volunteers. It involves everything from booking acts to working with local businesses who set up stands on the day of.

All of that work is done with the intention of bringing people, and of course, their dogs, together.

“Our dog community — we’re so happy to have them here,” Langley said. “We always see this event as an opportunity to showcase our dog park. It’s one of the biggest in the state. It’s an opportunity for us to assist local business that are dog friendly, to help with getting their name out there. What this has grown into -- we’re very pleased and proud of this product.”

Also an important part of Paws in the Park  were the two playpens set up near the entrance by Friends of Rocky Mount Animals, a foster home nonprofit organization for rescued and surrendered dogs.

In the first pen were several puppies, and in the other, four older dogs currently living in foster homes, all of which were eligible for adoption. Two of those were smaller dogs — 9-year-old Patches and his 8-year-old son, Buddy.

“Including the Rocky Mount Mills, there’s a lot of things to do for those that have dogs here. Always a good time to get everyone together,” Langley said. “It’s also good to help some dogs that need some families.”