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Wednesday, Dec 6, 2023

Wag your tail for Woofstock 2010

A bark-off, an agility course, homemade treats, music and blue skies are just some of the reasons why Woofstock 2010, Addison County Humane Society’s annual fundraiser, was by-and-large a successful event. Approximately 75 dogs and their owners came to the Middlebury Recreational Park on Saturday, Oct. 2, to support the ACHS, a no-kill shelter in Middlebury, Vt. Many attendees and their pets participated in the approximately 2-mile walk around the back of the Davis Family Library before returning to the park to participate in a multitude of activities, including agility and freestyle competitions, frisbee demonstrations and costume and trick contests. The event is the ACHS’s biggest fundraiser of the year, with last year’s festivities reaping in around $14,000, according to Susan Nelson, an ACHS volunteer.

“These events are huge for us,” said Mike Picard, treasurer on the ACHS Board. “Every penny is from members and events like this. We get no state or government funding.”

Woofstock 2010 participants raised money for the ACHS in the weeks leading up to the event. Some, like Middlebury resident Debbie Bird, used Facebook to encourage friends to donate to the cause.

“They [ACHS] provide a service no one else can,” said Bird.

Others created webpages on to raise funds. Brenda Ellis, the Reference Instruction Librarian, Cynthia (Pij) Slater, the Computing Specialist and Mack Roark, the Senior Technology Specialist, formed a team of Middlebury College employees from the Library Information Services (LIS) and raised over $1,300 for the ACHS.

Ellis was also a volunteer for the event, and spent the day with Walker, a two-year-old Walker Hound, for whom the ACHS is trying to find an owner. In addition to connecting strays with people looking to adopt pets, the ACHS also focuses on educating the public about the well-being of pets and helps to investigate animal cruelty issues.

Picard noted that the money generated from the event was particularly important this year. Due to the recent economic downturn, he said, people are bringing in more pets that they are not able to care for. Though it is far better to surrender your pet to the humane society than to abandon it, the ACHS is stretched thin and there is a usually a waiting list for animals, especially cats. This makes events such as Woofstock all the more significant, as the money raised is needed to feed and care for an increasing number of animals.

Local vendors also raised money for the cause. They each donated an item to the grand raffle and many donated a percentage of their profits earned that day to the ACHS, as well.

Kristin Bittrolff, co-owner of Green Go’s Burritos, sold fruit, homemade brownies, muffins and wraps at her stand at Woofstock. Though her 16-year-old Dalmatian, Waldo, was too old to participate in the event, Bittrolff still supported the cause. She said a portion of her proceeds would go to the ACHS.

Cindy Kilgore, owner of Sacred Spirit Dog, a company that makes scarves out of dog hair, always gives 30 percent of her profits to rescue groups. Kilgore began the unique idea of spinning dog hair into yarn five years ago.

“It’s way too simple in an unsimple world,” said Kilgore.

Since, customers have been sending her extra dog hair that they brush off their pets. At Woofstock, Kilgore was working on making yarn from dog hair sent to her from California. The scarves, which are 80 percent lighter and 67 percent warmer than wool, also give customers something comforting to help them remember their lost pets.

“It’s a way to have something when your friend’s not there,” said Kilgore.

Other companies selling and giving away items at the event included Petco and Wagatha’s Organic Dog Biscuits.

While some pet owners meandered through the tents of vendors, others competed with their dogs for a variety of prizes. Events, like the obedience competition, chose winners based on which dog sat down the fastest on command. Notable outfits in the costume contest included an angel, a turtle, an aristocrat and even a hot dog, complete with mustard on top. There was also a play area sponsored by Jackson’s on the River, where dogs of all sizes and ages socialized.

Still, some attendees used the event to highlight their dogs’ hard work.

Ann Kowalski’s one-year-old Golden Retriever, Murphy, had been working on his agility training and freestyle, commonly known as doggie dancing. Murphy showed off his routine, set to the tune of “I Love You” by The Persuasions. Though Kowalski wanted Murphy to follow the routine they had practiced, she was not too nervous.

“There’s no judging, no stress,” she said. “Sometimes their routine is better than ours.”

Even those like Peg Cobb, owner of Hand-in-Paw Training and Boarding Kennel, who has trained and bred dogs for nearly 25 years, said the routine she had planned with Murphy’s dad, Oliver, a five-year-old Golden Retriever, was just for fun in the spirit of Woofstock.

“Oliver has thrown in some moves of his own,” said Cobb.

No matter what the level of competition, all attendees came to Woofstock with a common goal: to support the ACHS.

Bruce Zeman, host of 92.1 WVTK’s morning show, “The Wake-Up Crew with Bruce Zeman and Hobbes,” couldn’t agree more. Zeman considers himself a passionate animal rights activist. His three-year-old Dachshund, Hobbes, is a victim of domestic violence. Once Zeman saw Hobbes at the humane society, he knew he had to take him. Hobbes is now a co-host on the morning show and, according to Zeman, is “arguably the most famous animal the state has ever had.”

For the past few weeks, Zeman promoted Woofstock on the radio.  Picard said this had a big influence on the increased attendance and success of this year’s event. On Saturday, he was broadcasting live from the Middlebury Recreational Park and helped judge some of the dog contests.

“We speak for them because they can’t speak for themselves,” he said.