Yes, I know that this is now 5 days late but at least it’s finally up! There was just so much to write about and so many photos to go through that it took longer than I’d hoped. Add on top of that that we’ve been helping out at my dad’s business and been doing other random things to help prepare us for our move down here in a couple months and it’s just been really hectic. Still, I hope you think this article was worth the wait! Be sure to check out our gallery for more photos. If you were there, see if you can see yourself in one or more of them! It’s like “Where’s Waldo” only it’s “Where’s… You!” ^_-
Wow! Just wow! Yesterday was the ASPCA’s Wag-n-Walk in Austin, TX and it was phenomenal! I posted last Thursday morning that we were headed to the event and I tell you it was totally worth the 16 hour drive! It took us until Friday afternoon to get here since we had to stop during the night at a gas station and there were bad storms in Texas that slowed our progress but I wouldn’t have given this experience up for anything! We were actually worried that it was going to get canceled because it was scheduled to storm (and I do mean storm, not just drizzle) pretty much the entire time. It was even raining in the morning yesterday so we kept checking the ASPCA site and seeing if they had twittered about it being cancelled and we even tried to call Zilker Park, where it was held, to see if we could reach anyone but since we didn’t we decided we would just go ahead and go. As we left the sky started to clear a bit and we even saw a little blue between the clouds which made us happy. I kept saying that this was a good cause so the rain should stop. I guess it thought so too! We got to Zilker just before 11 when the walk was about to start and the dogs were so excited we could barely get their leashes on them! As we walked up to the area where it was I actually got goosebumps because I was so excited to see all the orange everywhere and how many people had showed up despite the weather.
We walked up and while Nikki was getting our shirts and the puppies’ bandanas, I snapped shots of everything and listened to the mayor announce the beginning of the walk. We actually didn’t get to start with everyone else since we were getting the dogs all decked out but they looked so cute in their orange-ness that it was all okay. Spunky and Rufus also had a video taken of them as they started but I’m not sure if it made it into the news anywhere.
The walk was short, just a mile total up and back a small path but the point was that we were raising awareness, not trying to get a major work out. It was nice and casual and allowed the dogs to get to know one another better, especially around the hydration stations they had set up for dogs and humans alike.
After the walk, the fun really began. We finished and everyone stood around talking. The range of dogs there was amazing! There were tiny little dachshunds all the way up to giant great danes (of which there were tons because of the great dane group there). There were lots of mixed breed dogs and lots of purebred dogs. There were males and females and young and old and black and white and every color in between. It truly was a great meeting of the dogs!
We spent hours walking around and seeing all the booths and people. I grabbed a ton of information from all the different animal groups including Town Lake Animal Center, the Austin Humane Society, Emancipe+, Animal Trustees of Austin and of course the ASPCA. I mean we have bags stuffed full of brochures, flyers, newsletters, magnets and even a calendar. The information ranges from specifics about the organization to being a foster home for animals to what is poisonous to pets to what Trap-Neuter-Release (TNR) programs are. We have stickers from the ASPCA Humane Law Enforcement, magnets with hotlines and emergency numbers and some In Case Of Fire or Emergency stickers which I have been wanting to get for awhile now. The amount of information they had there was amazing and I hope everyone that went took full advantage of what was offered.
Of course it wasn’t all gathering papers. Far from it! Even though the event took place in a rather small area, it was stuffed full of fun things to do. We almost didn’t even make it to everything, in fact! We started out just wandering up and down and seeing all there was to offer. We looked at the dogs that were up for adoption for such a long time and kept going back to play with the puppies. I’ll talk more about them later. One of the first places we went was the obstacle course since I’d always wanted to see how Spunky would do on one since we know he’s a good mountain climber and jumper. He didn’t quite get the weaving poles and the jump was, well, more of a step but the rest of it he did really well on. He was great going up over the climb and jumping through the tire.
I wish we’d tried Rufus on it too but at that time we were so overwhelmed with everything that we were just running from place to place excitedly. We got some free dog treats from the Cardinal Ridge Bakery booth and admired the gigantic ASPCA bone treat they’d made for the occasion. There was even free food and drinks for the people! It’s great how giving everyone there was! It was obviously a cause that lots of people could get behind!
We stopped by the sponsors’ booths and entered drawings for both of them. Subaru gave out a really cool combination food scoop and bag clip and also donated a car to the ASPCA! Fresh Step Cat Litter had litter for sale and also the chance to win a year’s supply of cat litter! Wow! Whoever gets that is extremely lucky! I feel it’s important to mention these sponsors because without them, this event would not have been possible and it’s great when big companies support good causes.
We visited the pet behaviorist and asked her for advice on helping Spunky to eat slower. We’ve tried so many different things over the years but we’ve never been able to stop him from inhaling his food. She suggested always feeding him in a treat ball which is a very interesting idea which I plan on trying out once we get back to Tennessee. We also visited the Emancipe+ vet booth and talked to the people there about a bump we found on Spunky the night before. I also asked about his chipped tooth. We got great advice, of course, but we also made friends with them. It turns out that they are originally from Sparta, TN so we had that connection and the woman, Dr. Kimberly Bodner, even introduced Nikki to a contact that could help her in her web design career. It’s great how things like that just work out sometimes! We also got nice ASPCA bags with whatever we wanted airbrushed onto them by Curvy Canvas and a great photo of all four of us courtesy of Get The Picture.
Another thing we did while there was get some pictures drawn of us. The first one, drawn by Jay French, was of all four of us. The second one we had done of just the two puppies and it’s downright adorable. That caricature was drawn by Heather Joy.
One of the coolest things that happened to us was meeting Annemarie Lucas! We waited in line for awhile because she was loving all over this adorable great dane puppy but the wait, like everything else, was totally worth it! We had her sign a photograph for Spunky and then we started talking about how both he and Rufus are rescues from Wisconsin. That led us to say that we had driven down from Tennessee and she thought that awesome. She told the ASPCA’s photographer who took pictures of us with her and then she told a man that we should be interviewed.
After she was done loving on Spunky we were taken off to a quieter part of the festivities where we were interviewed. It was a bit intimidating and we each thought we sounded stupid but hopefully it will actually turn out well if they use us in the video. It was being done for the ASPCA’s website though they said it might be used for other things in the future as well. We’ll see what happens. I’m excited to see it! From that point on, word spread like wildfire that we had driven 16 hours from Tennessee and we enjoyed the little bit of “celebrity” we had. It’s not like we made the trip to be recognized or anything but I have to admit that it made me happy. It proves how important animal welfare is to us. The woman who was in charge of everything, Jo Sullivan, even announced us over the microphone twice! The first time we were hiding out in the back but some people who knew us still waved at us and clapped. The second time we were upfront and when she spotted us she called us up and we got a free collar for Spunky as well as two orange wristbands. I probably blushed a bit but again, it was nice. At the end of the day Nikki ran up to Jo and asked her if we could have our picture with her and she was excited to do it because she’s apparently never had someone ask her before. I think she was awesome!
Other highlights of the day included the band that played several sets. It was great music to have playing in the background as it was really upbeat. I also liked how they would talk about how important rescuing animals is. And of course, one of the biggest moments was when Kinky Friedman came on stage! He was presented with special cigars that had the ASPCA logo wrapped around them! How cool is that? Anyway, he talked about how animal welfare was important to him and told us about his rescue place, Utopia Animal Rescue Ranch. He also shared that a current project he’s working on is helping to move Jenny, a depressed elephant at the Dallas Zoo, to The Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee. Sounds like a good cause to me. Afterwards, as the band played again, he walked around and talked to people. We even got to talk to him which was cool! A famous person! ^_-
All in all it was a tremendously amazing experience! The people there were so interesting and friendly and all the dogs got along pretty well too. Of course when you stick that many dogs together there’s bound to be a few disagreements but I was so pleased with how happy all the dogs seemed to be there. It was like they knew that it was important too. That and it was like one giant puppy play date! Plus it raised awareness and it even gave back to Austin itself. The ASPCA presented a $5000 check to local animal organizations! How great is that?
Now as I said earlier, I’ll talk about the dogs they had up for adoption. There were several adults as well as 2 playpens of puppies. One playpen had aussie/hound mixes and the other had pit bull mixes. All of them were as cute as can be and I wished that we already lived here so that we could adopt one but there will be others when we do get down here and settled. As for the adult dogs, there were a lot of pits and pit mixes. My favorite was this gorgeous blue and white one but they also had a really cute tan-ish one named Sunny. There was also a lab mix named Superman and another little black dog who was cute and sweet too. I know I’m missing others but there were just so many dogs there that were beautiful and fun to meet that it’s near impossible to remember them all. Still, by the end of the day I think only the 2 brindle pit bull puppies had been adopted so some of these dogs are probably still available at their shelters so if you’re in the area you should definitely go check them out! And if you’re not in the area, then see what you can do to help your local shelters or adopt a dog (or cat or rabbit or ferret or ANYTHING!)
Don’t forget! More photos can be found in our ASPCA’s Austin Wag-n-Walk Photo Gallery! Go find yourself (or your pooch)!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a thousand times: ASPCA’s Austin Wag-n-Walk was amazing and I cannot wait until next year! If only we could make it to the one in LA this Saturday. Then we really would be ASPCA groupies! Well, there’s always next year!