Runaway retrievers, twinkle-toed terriers and huffing hounds were just a few of the breeds in attendance for the Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic Dog Jog held Sunday afternoon in Soldotna.
The purpose of the event was twofold. Proceeds raised were placed in a fund to help abandoned and injured pets. Also, the event was used to bid farewell to Dr. Bart Richards and his wife, Sandy, who are leaving next week for Kansas after providing many years of veterinary service at their practice, Richards Veterinary Clinic.
More than 60 people and their pets participated in either a 3.4-mile run or a 1-mile walk, and almost everyone in attendance received pet-related door prizes for their efforts. Many friends and clients of Richards also showed up to participate in the post-run festivities, which included a barbecue and behind-the-scenes tours of Twin Cities.
"It feels really good to do something like this," said Judy Consiel of Soldotna, there with her Sheltie named Fancy. "I participated in the walk, and it went really good. Everyone was enjoying themselves, and all the dogs were sniffing, visiting and being friendly with each other."
Marcia Hicks of Soldotna said her Shih Tzu-dachshund-Chihuahua mix named Joey also enjoyed socializing on the walk.
"He really liked seeing all the other dogs and interacting with them. We could have done more," she said.
Alison Williams of Nikiski said the same was true for her Karelian bear dog named Gizmo.
"We did the walk, but Gizmo would have liked to have done the run, but I don't do runs," she said.
Like Williams, Blake Larson of Kenai opted not to run, but didn't want his energetic young dog Pepper to miss out on the exercise.
"I took Pepper instead," said Larson's sister, Krista Arthur, of Soldotna, who ended up taking first place in the run. "This was my first time running in a race with a dog, but it was really fun."
Gail McWethy said she came to visit one last time with Bart Richards, her standard poodle Tasha's veterinarian.
"We've known him since the late '70s, so we wanted to come say goodbye," McWethy said. "I think it's neat that (Twin Cities Veterinary Clinic) hosted the event. It shows the small town attitude that it's not dog-eat-dog here."
Paula Morris of Soldotna also was there to see off Richards.
"I'm sad to see him go. I've been taking my dog to him for eight years. I told him he couldn't go, but he's going anyway," she said.
Richards, who has been saying goodbyes for more than six weeks now, was touched by the event. But like a consummate professional, he brought the focus back to the animals.
"We really appreciate it, but we really love that this was designed to attend to abandoned, injured and in-need animals," he said.
Jim Delker, a veterinarian at Twin Cities and one of the people who came up with the idea of the dog jog, said he was pleased with the turnout.
"These donations will now be used to care for animals in need, and hopefully people will continue to donate to the fund throughout the year," he said.
Delker added the event couldn't have been possible without the help of many staff members, sponsors and volunteers.
Anyone interested in contributing to the fund is encouraged to stop into Twin Cities or call 262-4581.
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