Saturday went to the dogs, at least at Secor Metopark, where the 9th annual MetroBarks Festival took place.
The all-day event kicked off early with the announcement of the winner of the 5th Annual Pet Idol contest. The luck of the Irish ruled the day as the winner was O'Casey, an Irish Wolfhound who makes his home with Toledoan Bill Poznanski, who describes his handsome pooch as "large, loving, and loyal."
"It was a close race throughout the contest as the leader kept changing," said Debby Geyer, Newspaper in Education coordinator at The Blade. "But O'Casey won in the final round with 1,153 votes."
Hundreds of people visited the park -- many with their pooches -- either as participants or observers to the many events, which included the contest, a 5K race and the National Dachshund Races, and raised $14, 000 for various organizations.
In the Pet Idol contest, 118 pet entries were whittled to 10 finalists. One of those finalists, Steve, a pet rat, died several weeks ago, before the end of the contest.
"He was a great pet. I miss him so much," said his owner, Lynn Savial of Cygnet, Ohio.
Steve touched the lives of a lot of children, Ms. Savial said. Her daughter worked at the Lourdes University Life Lab, a science learning center for children, where Steve was a resident before retiring to Ms. Savial's home. Ms. Savial works at Wayne Public Library in Wayne, Ohio, and often brought him in for visits, where again he was a hit with the children.
The other eight finalists were Cooper, a beagle mix owned by Demetra Sabback, Toledo; Dozer aka Sid, a Yorkshire terrier and poodle mix, owned by Kimberly Bailey, Monclova Township; Maggie, a Yorkshire terrier and shih tzu mix owned by Jan Petz, Toledo; Syzygy, a boxer owned by Tim DeLamotte, Toledo; Otto, a rottweiler mix owned by Lorie Gottwald, Maumee; Bizkits, a German shepherd mix, owned by Lou Pratt, Wauseon; Daisy, a rottweiler and shepherd mix owned by Kelly Bishop, Perrysburg; and Katie, a German shepherd, owned by Bob Reinbolt, Toledo.
The top video winner in the contest, which can be seen at petidolcontest.com, was submitted by Michelle Pawlak of Toledo. It is titled "Bomber the Beefcake" and features her Chihuahua demonstrating his considerable safety skills.
The contest was sponsored by The Blade, Metroparks of the Toledo Area, Yark Subaru, Planned Pethood, and WTOL-TV, Channel 11. Proceeds will benefit Newspaper in Education and Planned Pethood.
The festival was sponsored by all of the above and also Karnik lodging, day care, bathing, and pet loss services; the Toledo Area Humane Society, The Andersons, and 7Up.
Other events of the day included the National Dachshund Races, the Ohio qualifier for the national event to be held in Findlay at the end of August.
The winner of the 35-foot adult race was 4-year-old Junior, who traveled from Burton, Mich., near Flint with owners Erika Dehmel and Steven Nordberg, who sported T-shirts proclaiming them to be "Jr.'s Dad" and "Jr.'s Mom."
Twenty-four dogs competed in the race under adult, senior, and puppy classes. Entrants came from as far away as Rome, Pa., some 450 miles from Toledo. Davy, a 10-year-old owned by Ellen Gorrell of Maumee, won the senior race. The puppy winner was 11-month-old Zoey, owned by John Keske of Toledo.
Also on the agenda was an agility course. Humans got in on the fun with their dogs via the 2nd Annual Humane Hustle 5K Run/Walk sponsored by the humane society. The run/walk had more than 130 entrants, some of whom ran with dogs by their sides. Overall winners were Brian Benefield, 41, of Monclova Township, who finished with a time of 20.36.17, and Monica West, 38, of Toledo, with a time of 22.56.05.
The event included information tables and adoptable dogs presented by many rescue groups including 4 Paws Sake, Planned Pethood, and the Lucas County Pit Crew.
The Lucas County Dog Warden also was on hand with several adoptable dogs. The dog warden employees got a visit from alumnus Duke, a 12-year-old basset hound who was adopted by Denise Fischer of Toledo several years ago.
"My husband saw Duke in the paper and it was just love at first sight," Ms. Fischer said.
Contact Tanya Irwin at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6066.