Just as Zeus the St. Bernard and his owner, Mike Crist, received the Largest Dog award on the Pinewood Bowl stage Sept. 3 at the inaugural Dog Bowl fundraiser for Lincoln’s dog runs, Tim Hardesty walked up to the stage with his Irish Wolfhound Jamison – looking perhaps a foot longer and taller than Zeus.
Giggles could be heard from the audience. But Hardesty and Jamison were about 10 minutes too late to enter the Largest Dog contest.
“I was in a car show today, and I had to transfer Jamison to another vehicle,” Hardesty said after the contest. “Otherwise I would have been here on time.”
But Hardesty and his dog, both with strikingly similar dark grayish hair, were on time for the Owner-Dog Look-alike contest, which they won handily.
In another contest, Liz Trainor and Bear Dog, whom she called a “muttweiler,” won the Best Trick award for a dance they performed together on stage.
How did she teach her dog to dance so well?
“I work at Camp Bow Wow (near 56th and Old Cheney Road), and Bear Dog plays with me at camp all day,” Trainor said. “After work, we go to the Greater Lincoln Obedience Club for dance training.”
In the event’s other contest, Andres Martinez won the Smallest Dog award with his teacup Chihuahua, Reptar Pickles.
Other activities included dogs getting acquainted, running through an agility course, hopping into child pools, eating dog treats provided by organizations that hosted booths, and people enjoying food, craft beer and live music by White Catfish.
Nearly 1,000 people attended the Dog Bowl, said Susan Larson Rodenburg, event co-coordinator. The event was hosted by presenting sponsor TMCO in partnership with the Lincoln Parks Foundation and Friends of the Dog Parks.
“The event helped us raise $70,000 for the Lincoln Dog Run Campaign, not counting another $18,000 in in-kind media and other sponsorships,” Larson Rodenburg said.
“At this point, we are at 65 percent of our $861,050 goal to privately fund additional features for the three new public dog runs and improvements at Rickman’s Run (located east of 70th Street near Holmes Lake),” she added. “We will continue fundraising until the end of the year.”
The City of Lincoln is contributing $240,000 from the capital improvement budget, mostly for general infrastructure like fences, gates, parking facilities and sidewalks. The campaign adds private funds for enhancements such as drinking fountains, rinsing stations and additional trees, benches, paths and trails, said event co-coordinator Diane Temme.
The new dog runs are expected to open by year’s end at:
• Roper East Park, I-180 north of Cornhusker Highway, which will replace the current Oak Lake facility;
• Mahoney Park, 84th and Adams streets; and
• Peterson Park, 2200 Southwood Drive.
Once completed, dogs and their human companions will have off-leash runs in each quadrant of Lincoln. Larson Rodenburg said that the project will help Lincoln catch up with cities of similar size that offer more dog runs per number of residents.
“Dog runs are great places for people to socialize with other dog lovers and for dogs to exercise, play and socialize with other dogs,” added Temme.
For more details and to donate to the Lincoln Dog Run Campaign, see lincolnparks.org/dogruns or call 402-441-8258.