Stray dogs strut

Shelly Banjo and Shelly Banjo

Stray dogs strut

Ninth fund-raising event includes bobbing for balls, ‘doggie couture’

By Shelly Banjo

The Daily Northwestern

Homemade food, fancy outfits and a chance to make new friends brought a different breed of Evanston residents together on Saturday.

“Woody, is there anyone you’d like to meet?” asked Evanston resident Scott Brewer, Communication ’76.

But Woody, Brewer’s part-Husky, part-Shepherd mix, only answered with a wag of his tail and a loud bark.

More than 200 dogs and their guardians came to the Ladd Arboretum, 2024 McCormick Blvd., on Saturday for the ninth annual “Strut for Strays” three-mile walk/run fund raiser, sponsored by Community Animal Rescue Effort.

But owners and their dogs were interested in more than just walking the course.

“It’s like a dog party here,” Brewer said. “It’s a fun event for the dogs. It keeps them active and it’s fun to see them all socializing.”

With their owners standing right beside them, dogs tried to win prizes in the “Doggie Carnival” by finding a bone under one of three flying discs in “Find a Bone,” jumping through hula hoops in “Scooper Hoops” and pulling tennis balls out of a kiddie pool in “Bob for Balls.”

Although not every dog succeeded at the carnival games, the volunteers and owners gave them plenty of love and support.

“We help them out a lot,” said Stacie Perez, who adopted her first pet through C.A.R.E. “Doggie self-esteem is very important.”

Owners dressed their dogs for the day in football jerseys, bandannas and even donned rain jackets when it started drizzling.

“People enjoy getting their dogs out around other dogs and supporting the cause,” said Felicia Brown, a C.A.R.E volunteer. “Plus, they get to show off their doggie couture.”

Megan Lutz, who organized the event, said “Strut for Strays” brings a steady stream of participants every year.

“On Saturday mornings many people are already out walking their dogs and we offer them a fun event that brings them coming back every year,” Lutz said. “It’s small enough to be manageable and fun and people are able to spend a lot of time with their dogs.”

C.A.R.E. is a nonprofit volunteer organization that cares for hundreds of abused and abandoned animals brought into the Evanston Animal Shelter each year.

“Strut for Strays” is one of C.A.R.E’s biggest fund raisers, along with the “Doggie Car Wash” in June and the C.A.R.E holiday fair and auction.

Evanston resident Peter Klingensmith has walked in “Strut for Strays” the past several years and has volunteered with C.A.R.E since 1998.

“It is nice to bond with the animals and to do some charity,” he said. “We only have cats at home. It’s nice to bond with another species.”