Table Surfing, a Brisk Walk, and Doggie Massage: The Doggie Dash Report



Rain and I successfully raised $590 for Oregon Humane Society in association with our participation in this year’s Doggie Dash. Thank you to the Rain in the Forecast readers who donated to help us meet our goal.

Saturday morning was the big day and I nearly sent Rain home when we arrived downtown. Rain tends to bark a lot when we arrive at our destination in the car, and this time her loud voice was reverberating between the multi-story buildings of downtown Portland. It was 8am, our ride was leaving, and I was having second thoughts.

Instead of sending her home though, I took a deep breath and started walking Rain along the sidewalk, away from our destination. I figured if she got engrossed in sniffing the interesting smells of downtown streets, she’d soon recover. We avoided other dogs heading the other way toward Waterfront Park until we had circumnavigated a few blocks. Then I started carefully heading toward Doggie Dash Central.

Once we were in the park I kept to the grass, where Rain would have sight of dozens of dogs from a distance. Once again she got engrossed in the smells of the grass and goose poop. We inched closer to the main doggie pathway, and soon we were just feet from the southern end of the event space. We stepped past the line of Honey Buckets and began our challenge.

It would be a big fat lie to claim that Rain never barked during our time at Doggie Dash. She did. Hoo boy, did she ever. It didn’t take her long to get really keyed up by being in such a stimulating environment. There were tons of people. Tons of dogs. Tons of food! Everything about this event was new to her, and she was excited.

First we checked out the booths on the east side of the park. She got lots of free treats and samples to take home, and I won a few free prizes for her, including a tennis ball. At one booth I bought her a new Buster Cube, this one in sky blue to match many of her other personal effects.

Rain was so excited in this environment that whenever we walked up to a table with any sort of clear space on it, Rain’s first inclination was to jump up on top of it. Boing! Up on the table where there was a spin-the-wheel giveaway going on. Boing! Up on the table where a local non-profit was distributing flyers. Boing! Up on the table with a bunch of open dog food samples. The strangers manning these tables thought it was adorable, which I was thankful for…but I still made sure she got off that dog food table as soon as possible.

We needed to keep aware of the time because I wanted to be back in the park by 10:45am. We had plans to participate in a special activity! So we decided to grab breakfast and then get to walking the course.

Rain got a pupcake when we snaked through the line for pancake breakfast. She stole some pupcake from a handsome red merle Aussie standing next to us, but I gave him some of hers to even things out. Then we headed for the starting line—it was nearly 9:45am.

IMG_2347Cued up at the start line.

Our two course options were one mile (measly!) and 2.5 miles (better). Most people were opting for the 2.5 miler, which crossed over the Hawthorne Bridge and along the Eastside Esplanade before returning to the west side on the Steel Bridge. The course was fairly slow, clogged with the large number of participants. Normal walking speed is three miles per hour, and Rain and I needed to be back to Waterfront Park before 10:45am. Time to unleash the Aussie speed demon!

Rain and I kicked into gear every chance we got, looking for gaps to edge ahead of the people in front of us. Rain got plenty of chances to peer out on the Willamette River, watching dragon boat practice or just enjoying the new-to-her view—but once we got on the east side we spent much of our time inviting people to eat our dust. (Politely.)

IMG_2354A cute Newfie we got to meet.

We returned to the festivities just long enough to catch our breath before 10:45am—the time slated for the doggie kissing contest we entered! Most of the dogs were a little off their game because of the distracting situation. Rain was no exception, but she still performed better than most. Sadly, we didn’t win our round to go to the finals, but I’m pretty sure we were a solid second place, judging from the applause we got.

IMG_2353Rain waits for the doggie kissing contest to start

After the contest we hit up the booths on the west side of the park. We got our goodie bag, which strangely included sample packets of kitty treats. (No matter, we have plenty of kitty friends to share with!) Activities included the Portland Veterinary Medical Association scanning microchips, the Portland Community College vet tech program creating painted paw prints with dogs, and the Heal booth offering complimentary doggie massage.

Rain got a doggie massage. It was clear she wasn’t super happy about a stranger touching her, but after just a few minutes she was noticeably calmer. Considering how physical Rain is and her sometimes intense emotions, it might be a good thing for me to try some more doggie massage on her!

IMG_2357Rain chilling after her doggie massage.

It was nearly time to meet our ride, so we started heading toward our meet-up spot several blocks away. As soon as we some distance from Doggie Dash Central, Rain settled down once again, walking along the sidewalk and sniffing without barking excitedly.

And once we were home, Rain and I both took a glorious afternoon nap.

Originally Doggie Dash was intended to be “the next step” for Rain—giving her exposure to new things and potentially challenge her in the not-barking department. She certainly got exposed to plenty of new things, from downtown Portland to all the smells that come with spending a few hours in one of the most well-traveled locations in Oregon. Hoping that she would stay silent the whole time was pretty unrealistic! She had loads of fun though, and she was surrounded by people who understood her in all her dogness.


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