Dog-walking weather has arrived, and with it, a humble fundraiser that helps local homeless pets, foster animals and pets who might lose their “forever homes” because misfortune has strained their owners’ budgets.
Barktoberfest borrows the fun from Oktoberfest (replacing steins of beer with homemade dog treats, stylish pet gear and clothes) and the dog-devotion of Dog Days of Denton, all for a good cause. The party in the park raises money for the Denton Humane Society, a nonprofit agency that promotes the welfare of companion animals — including rabbits, horses and other friendly livestock — through pet food assistance, foster homes, affordable spay/neuter programs and education.
The event is from 11 am. to 2 p.m. Saturday at North Lakes Park, 2001 W. Windsor Drive. Weather reports predict a 40 percent chance of rain and comfortable fall temperatures.
Pet owners needn’t avoid the park if their dogs aren’t quite up to date on their shots. From 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., the event will offer $5 rabies vaccines, as well as distemper-parvovirus and bordatella vaccines for $10 each. Cats can get their shots, too — $5 for rabies shots, $10 for feline viral rhinotracheitis-panleukopenia vaccines, and $10 for feline leukemia virus vaccines. Dogs and cats can have microchips placed under their skin for $30. The tiny identification chips can be used to reunite lost pets with their owners when a veterinary technician or animal control officer scans the animal.
This year, Humane Society officials announced that the festival’s fundraising potential has grown. An anonymous donor associated with the local society will offer a matching grant equal to up to $5,000 in attendee donations.
A pet costume contest starts at 11:30 a.m. At 12:30 p.m., all rescued dogs are invited to join the “rescue parade.” The parade is open for dogs adopted from rescue organizations or rescued from streets, sidewalks or neglectful homes.
After the parade comes the event that has proven popular with dogs. A weenie-eating contest at 1:30 p.m. will determine which local dogs eat the fastest. After being sorted into categories for large and small dogs, the four-legged contestant will be offered sliced bits of hot dogs. The creature with the speediest bite wins.
Throughout the day, dogs and their owners can shop vendor booths for everything from treats to dog clothes, make abstract art with paper, paint and paws, and even get their nails trimmed. There will be face-painting for people, raffles and a booth to cast your dog’s paw print.
Longtime pet owners can learn about dental health for dogs thanks to Solaris, a local Great Pyrenees who will attend as a canine tooth fairy — complete with her own tiara. Solaris is also Denton’s 2014 Spokesdog. The title is bestowed on a lucky dog each summer during the Dog Days of Denton festival.
Barktoberfest can also be a resource for families and individuals who hope to adopt a dog. North Texas rescue organizations will attend, bringing adoptable dogs for people to meet and to interact with, and bear real-world experience with different breeds.