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Published: Wednesday, 7/30/2008

Oregon's Sacred Heart festival doggedly pursues fun

BY MEREDITH BYERS
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Sacred Heart resident Larry Hartman fits Sam with some headgear as he and other residents get ready for Sunday's festival. Sacred Heart resident Larry Hartman fits Sam with some headgear as he and other residents get ready for Sunday's festival.
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The Dog Days of Summer Festival attracts canines and people alike, but may be best known for its "nun-better" dog biscuits.

The biscuits, which are made from all-natural ingredients including peanut butter, vanilla, and corn meal, are made by the cooks at the Sacred Heart Home. "We only make these biscuits once during the year," said Nancy Manera, an assistant cook.

The annual Dog Days event, set to take place this Sunday, at the Sacred Heart Home in Oregon, features events such as a Pooch Party Store, a Doggie Day Care, bingo, games, and a Pooch Parade, where people can walk their costumed dog for $5, or enter the dog on a float for $10. Prizes are awarded for the best costumes in the parade. Last year, the parade attracted about 70 dogs.

Linda Carros, a cook with the Sacred Heart Home, said the Dog Days of Summer festival stands out among the abundance of summer events.

Volunteers Wanda Taylor and Jackie Curtis load up doggie bags of 'nun-better' dog biscuits for sale at the festival. Sacred Heart cooks stir up the toothsome treats just once a year. Volunteers Wanda Taylor and Jackie Curtis load up doggie bags of 'nun-better' dog biscuits for sale at the festival. Sacred Heart cooks stir up the toothsome treats just once a year.
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"How many dog festivals are out there?" she said, adding, "We put a lot of time and effort into this."

The Sacred Heart Home, a nonprofit facility in Oregon, offers assisted and independent-living housing as well as nursing care to low-income elderly residents of from northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

Sacred Heart is home to about 73 residents, and has a four-year waiting list, said Carolyn Matthews, the center's development director. The home cares for people of all religious denominations, Ms. Matthews said.

The Sacred Heart Home has been at its current location for five years, but the home has existed since 1968.

Volunteer Ray Hoak of Toledo gives each sign a wire mount that will hold it in place in someone's yard. Volunteer Ray Hoak of Toledo gives each sign a wire mount that will hold it in place in someone's yard.
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The home is run by the Little Sisters of the Poor, an international order of about 2,700 nuns that operates 205 homes in 32 countries, including 30 in the United States.

Ten nuns live in a convent in the Sacred Heart Home and help with the care of the elderly.

The upcoming festival is also a fund-raiser for the home. Proceeds go to the Little Sisters of the Poor to support its efforts to care for the elderly.

Other events include an opportunity for "Pictures with Your Pooch," and a doggy obstacle course.

There are also several raffles throughout the day, including a $1,000 grand prize award.

Joan Marcis, 78, a resident in the Sacred Heart apartments who volunteers at the festival, said the event is "a nice way for people to come and learn about the home and what it does. It's more than just a home - it's a family.

"The festival really brings that out and shows people what we do and how we live," she said.

The festival runs from noon to 6 p.m. at the Sacred Heart Home for the Elderly at 930 South Wynn Rd. in Oregon. There is no general admission charge. Raffle tickets can be purchased for $5 each.

Having a dog is not a requirement for attending the event, but all dogs are more than welcome, as long as they are on a leash and on their best behavior.



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