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Dog Olympics event raises money for rescue groups

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One-year-old Sophie stands at attention as her owner, David Dennis, waits for the "longest leave it" contest to begin. The dogs were told to "leave it" when a piece of dog cake with mashed potato frosting was placed in front of them, and the dog that waited the longest was named the winner. (Lauren Carroll/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Sitting in a basket under a large balloon, Snickers looked ready to fly away. Sporting a cap, jacket and sunglasses, the 8-month-old Bichon Frise puppy was dressed up in full hot air balloon pilot gear.

Snickers was not actually taking off, but competing in the best-dressed competition in a Dog Olympics event at Miller Park on Sunday afternoon.

Snicker’s owners, Mark and Pamela Ryalls, said they were very pleased that Snickers won first place in both the best-dressed and best tail-wagging events.

“We’re just so proud!” Pamela Ryalls, of Lewisville, said. “He’s just wonderful; he’s just everything we want him to be, he’s perfect.”

The Ryallses were among more than 200 people gathered in the park to celebrate the Responsible Dog Ownership Day and the 1st Annual Winston-Salem Dog Olympics. The event was sponsored by Elite Ca-nine Dog Training Center, owned by Geralyn Kelly, and wholePET Dog Boutique, owned by Steve Kline and Barry Blevins.

Kelly said she, Kline and Blevins decided to hold the event to help teach people how to be responsible dog owners. “We want the public to be educated on how to take care of their dogs,” Kelly, who has been training dogs for more than 12 years, said.

“We want the community to know that this is a lifetime commitment you have with a dog and there are certain things you need to do.”

Kelly said that last week, Mayor Allen Joines signed a proclamation making Sept. 29 Responsible Dog Owner Day in Winston-Salem. She said the first half of the event, which took place from 1-4 p.m., was focused on educating the attendants, and the second half was all about the Dog Olympics competition and having fun.

The event featured 18 vendors from local small businesses, including K-9 Doggie Bakery and Boutique and Ruff Housing Dog Daycare and Lodging. Additionally, six dog-rescue organizations had tents in the park, showcasing dogs that needed homes. The Dog Olympic events ranged from cute competitions, like best kisser, to more advanced challenges such as, longest sit.

To compete, dog-owners paid $5 for each advanced event, or $5 for every two “cute” events. Kelly said the proceeds from the Olympics, sale of bracelets, homemade cupcakes, a Krispy Kreme dipping station and bottled waters will be split among the six dog-rescue groups that attended the event.

Sammie, a 3-year-old Labrador mix, won the best kisser event, but couldn’t make it through the longest leave-it event. The smell of a plate of dog cake with mashed potato frosting on the ground mere inches from his nose, proved too tempting for Sammie, owner Madeline Green said. “He was drooling and he was doing fine until my husband said, ‘Move it closer.’ I wanted the gold, but oh well, it was fun,” she said.

Another gold medal winner, Kim Ahlstrom, said she was happy to win the dog owner look-a-like event with her dog, Raisin. “I don’t know if I’d like to be as short and chubby as my dog, but if I get a medal, I guess it’s OK,” Ahlstrom joked.

“It’s really nice to see all the people and the dogs out together; I’m having a good time.”

Krista Scott, who competed in several events with her German Shepherd, Lacy, said they both enjoyed the event as well. “Lacy is having a good time meeting other dogs and being socialized with other people and kids, so I think this is a great day for her and me, too,” Scott said.

“It’s been a lot of fun — it’s real lighthearted. There are lots of organizations with booths that are really informational about being a pet-owner in the Triad area and it’s always fun to have a day out with your dog.”

By Carson Capshaw-Mack/The Winston-Salem Journal