Saturdays Doggie Dash and Canine Fair goes all out for mans best friend

Shake, rattle and roll to Beyond 50 Radio while your dog leaps and bounds through an agility course Saturday, Aug. 3, at Lincoln Park in Forest Grove.

Dog owners and non-owners from across the Metro area are invited to peruse booths, watch demonstrations and take a short jaunt for charity behind the skate park at the first annual Paws in the Grove, a doggie dash and canine fair.

Daniel Davis of Beyond 50 Radio will emcee the event, where highlights will include an agility-course demonstration by members of the Columbia Agility Team — and a chance to let your own dog try the course when they’re done.

Wild Child Pet fashions will trot the runway, the dogs of K9 Nose Work will demonstrate their sniffing skills, and Barkzone will test and evaluate your dog’s temperament.

Additional demonstrations will join specialty food booths and 40 canine healthcare, daycare and service providers.

“When I do things, I like to do things in a big way,” said Cheri Burghardt, founder and event coordinator.

Jing Qi Shen, Burghardt’s 16-pound standard shitsu, made his modeling debut as a Paws in the Grove spokesdog just six months after joining her family. Cheri and Michael Burghardt adopted Jing Qi Shen — “Body Mind Spirit” in Chinese — from Bonnie Hays Animal Shelter in Hillsboro last January and dove into local dog culture.

Cheri, 55, decided to organize Forest Grove’s first doggie dash two months ago.

“I want it to be a great experience for everybody — the whole community, whether you have a dog or not,” she said.

Participants can check out resource and vendor booths at no charge, or donate $15 to walk or run the one- or two-mile tracks.

Donations support the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center, which relies on donations for 80 percent of its funds, Michael said.

Sponsors have already committed more than $1,150, Cheri said, plus giveaway items for raffle prizes. She’s also signed up 16 volunteers and 35 participants, but she hopes for more of both before race day.

“My goal is 75 runners and walkers this year,” she said. “In two to three years, I want Paws in the Grove to be the biggest doggie dash in Washington County.”

Her daughter Michelle Todd, 31, updates the event’s Facebook page and monitors other online business while Cheri serves as event coordinator and Michael sits on the community center board. Jing Qi Shen has yet to be very helpful in planning, Cheri said, but he is a reminder of her purpose and the community Paws in the Grove will serve.

“Within the dog community, which is so popular here, there’s a huge compassion for animals,” Cheri said. “People are just so giving of themselves — so selfless — in their care for an animal.”

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