It was a race to the finish in the competition for Top Dog in this year’s Pet Idol.
The 10th annual MetroBarks event at Swan Creek Preserve Metropark kicked off with an announcement of the winner of The Blade’s 8th Annual Pet Idol contest.
All 10 finalists happened to be dogs this year, said Debby Geyer, Newspaper in Education coordinator at The Blade. The contest, which raised $16,000 for the Newspaper in Education fund and Planned Pethood, attracted 30,000 votes, including 8,000 in just the final round.
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At the head of the pack was Katie, a 3-year-old German shepherd owned by Bob Reinbolt of Toledo. Katie was one of the 10 finalists last year. This year, she barely beat out Emperor Rajesh, a 3-year-old long-haired Chihuahua owned by Patricia Duffer of Toledo.
Mr. Reinbolt said Katie might look a little intimidating with her classic German shepherd police-dog looks, but she has the carefree personality of a Labrador retriever.
“She goes to day care and she really enjoys playing with the other dogs,” Mr. Reinbolt said.
Besides being one of the Top 10 finalists in the Pet Idol contest, Emperor Rajesh might also have the distinction of being the smallest dog at the festival. Weighing in at only 2¼ pounds, the 6-inch-tall dog is a service dog. He is able to detect when his owner, who has cardiac issues, is experiencing an irregular heartbeat even before she realizes it.
“Everyone always thinks service dogs are bigger dogs, and that’s why I entered the contest, to show people that little dogs can have a big job,” Mrs. Duffer said. “It’s not about the size, it’s about the heart.”
The 2013 Pet Idol Grand Prize received a JC Penney Pet Portrait package and a gift basket with gift certificates, pet goodies, and MetroBarks membership.
The top video winner in the Pet Idol contest, which can be seen at petidolcontest.com, was submitted by Francis Strohl and Leah Daly, both of Perrysburg. Titled “Singing and Dancing,” it features Ms. Daly’s Chihuahua demonstrating his considerable dance moves.
The contest was sponsored by The Blade, Metroparks of the Toledo Area, Yark Subaru, Planned Pethood, and WTVG-TV Channel 13.
The festival was sponsored additionally by Karnik lodging, day care, bathing, and pet loss services; the Lucas County Dog Warden, the Toledo Area Humane Society, The Andersons, 7-Up, and Cumulus Toledo.
Hundreds of people visited the Swan Creek park, many accompanied by their pooches, either as participants or observers to the many events, which besides Pet Idol included a 5-kilometer foot race, with or without a dog companion; an “Ask the Vet” booth, and microchipping by the Lucas County Dog Warden’s Office.
Also on hand was Cutie, a Chihuahua who is the namesake of the dog warden’s Cutie’s Fund emergency medical assistance for dogs that arrive at the pound with high-cost medical issues. Cutie signed “paw-tographs” and raised $200 for the fund with a raffle for a Ceramagrafix custom pet tile, won by Deanna Michael of Toledo.
Three dozen vendors and rescue groups had booths, including the Wood County Humane Society, which had a 3-year-old “pit bull”-mix dog named Nicky that was looking for a home. The group is promoting the use of yellow ribbons to signal that a dog would rather not be approached.
“The yellow dog project actually began in England,” said Cassie Williams, the group’s outreach adoption coordinator. “It’s a nice and easy way to let people know your dog needs some space. They could be scared of other dogs or be nervous around new people, or may be in training and therefore shouldn’t be approached.”
At the Golden Retriever Foundation, volunteers handed out educational materials about canine cancer, which is the leading cause of death in all breeds for dogs over age 10.
Sue Bechtel of Whitehouse has lost three of her five dogs to cancer. She obtained a grant to start Andy’s Army, a group dedicated to educating and raising funds to fight canine cancer.
“We’re not here to alarm people, but people need to be aware that cancer is fairly common in dogs and they need to be on the lookout for it,” she said. “Just like in people, early detection can save lives.”
Early symptoms include sores that don’t heal, weight loss, loss of appetite, difficulty eating or swallowing, persistent lameness or stiffness, and difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating.
Over at the Toledo Area Humane Society’s 5K Humane Hustle, just under 300 runners competed both with and without dogs.
The top three winners with dogs were Adam Willingham of Toledo, Angi Holt-Parks of Toledo, and Diana Dunbar of Toledo.
The top finisher of the race overall was Beth Wells of Dayton. The other top finishing women were Jen Hildebrand of Waterville and Joan Mathews of Maumee. The top three men were Andrew Miller of Sylvania, Dan Ahern of Toledo, and Jack Dais of Toledo.