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Gresham invites the dogs to town

Gallery owner organizes festival for dog's sake in downtown Gresham
by: Carole Archer, Kelly Keigwin, owner of Art for Dog’s Sake and cochair of It’s a Dog’s Life Festival, holds a festival T-shirt designed by Jelene Morris, which will sell for $10 to benefit the Dove Lewis Animal Hospital and Guide Dogs for the Blind. There will be a variety of items in their silent auction Saturday, Sept. 23.

Gresham's going to the dogs this week and Kelly Keigwin couldn't be happier.

Keigwin, owner of Art for Dog's Sake Gallery, is finishing last-minute preparations for the first It's a Dog's Life Festival, to be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23, on Third Street between Main and Miller avenues in historic downtown Gresham.

'The only thing we're worried about now is the weather,' Keigwin says. 'But, even if it rains, it should be OK. Dog people are used to getting dirty.'

The festival, which features two-dozen vendors, raffles, a silent auction and a children's area, isn't only for dogs and their people.

'This charitable event is not just about dogs, it's about family, friends and the community,' Keigwin says.

Festival organizers hope the event will give historic downtown Gresham some attention, while raising money for two dog-friendly organizations - Dove Lewis Animal Hospital and Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Keigwin knows a thing or two about dog charities. Her gallery and framing shop in downtown Gresham, at 312 N. Main Ave., opened last year with a show by Gunther, Keigwin's artistic boxer.

Awarded with pigs' ears (his favorite treat), Gunther churns out impressionist paintings, which sell for hundreds of dollars. Keigwin donates the proceeds to the Humane Society of Southwest Washington's program for hard-to-adopt dogs.

'This all started last April,' Keigwin says. 'We were thinking about Gunther and his charitable work, and we wanted to do something to tie the community together and help local businesses and, at the same time, benefit the charities that are close to our hearts.'

Other business owners jumped on board and the festival grew.

Even non-dog related businesses, such as Stamp Connection and All State Insurance Agent Sally Johns, have stepped forward to sponsor the festival, and Keigwin says she's pleased by the widespread backing.

'We have so much community support,' Keigwin says. 'People here are really into it.'

Gresham's big sister to the west may have been voted the nation's dog-friendliest city, but Keigwin thinks Gresham is a great place to be a dog owner.

'I think it's very dog friendly here,' says Keigwin, who lives in Vancouver, Wash., and owns businesses in downtown Portland and downtown Gresham. 'People here are just as understanding as people in Portland.'

If You Go

What: It's a Dog's Life Festival

When: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23

Where: Downtown Gresham, on Third Street, between Main and Miller avenues, next to the Gresham Farmers' Market

Benefits: DoveLewis Animal Hospital and Guide Dogs for the Blind

What to expect: More than 20 different dog-related vendors; a dog rally presentation by DogTown, a Gresham dog daycare and obedience training business; a children's corner where little ones can paint their own T-shirts and enter a coloring contest; dogs available for adoption, presented by the Multnomah County Animal Shelter; a silent auction; and, possibly, a presentation of new puppies by the Guide Dogs for the Blind school.

For more information, or to view the items in the silent auction: Visit www.itsadogslifefestival.com.