Wauconda Mutt Show supports Howling Ridge

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<div align=Photo by Amy Veneziano

&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp; This mutt won Best Dressed for under 12 (the girl is under 12). It’s an Irish Wolfhound. Wearing fatigues and” title=”420a” width=”" height=”" class=”size-FULL”>

Photo by Amy Veneziano

&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp;&amp;nbsp; This mutt won Best Dressed for under 12 (the girl is under 12). It’s an Irish Wolfhound. Wearing fatigues and

TONASKET – There’s nothing quite like a dog – they share your bed, come when they’re called and never talk back.

But across the Okanogan, hundreds of dogs are lost and abandoned on a yearly basis, their futures not a concern for many owners with other things to do.

One organization has been working hard through the years to change that, and many local individuals are trying to help Howling Ridge keep its doors open.

One such fundraiser was last weekend’s second annual Mutt Show in Wauconda.

The show kicked off last year with 40 dogs, said organizer Linda Maxwell. She had expected about 20, she said.

There were prepared “doggie bags” for the first 40 four-legged competitors, Maxwell said.

For some groups, a chance to get together means discussing children, grandchildren or work. But the crowd at the Wauconda Field Hall June 29 was all about the canine.

Judging categories ranged from best hair to ugliest dog; best tricks to best outfit. Though not all the dogs took home a prize, there were several door prizes awarded to the audience, who selected the top three for best of show.

There was no breed judging.

“Even the purebreds are mutts,” Maxwell said.

Three well-known local judges and minor Eastern Washington celebrity helped celebrate the warm day and cool dogs.

KHQ weatherman George Maupin performed some honoree master of ceremony duties, including awarding the trophies to the two-and-four-legged winners.

Maupin was invited by Maxwell, he said.

“This kind of show has much more of a community feel than one in a big city,” said Maupin, who also attended last year’s event which was held inside due to rain. “It’s beautiful out here – I love it. I’d live out here but I can’t afford to drive to work every day.”

Sheriff Frank Rogers, state representative Joel Kretz and retired Tonasket veterinarian Hugh Maycumber (from Republic) all served as judges.

“This is a lot of fun,” Rogers said. “There are a lot of talented dogs – it’s more fun that way. There were also some pretty talented people,” he said, remembering one contestant who encouraged her pup to roll by taking a spin on the ground herself.

“That created some difficulty when trying to score,” he said. “We had to give it to her.”

This was the first time Rogers had judged the event.

“It was a blast,” he said. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Rogers and his wife Minette currently have one dog. Another one might be in their future, he said.

The show included an agility demonstration by the Republic 4H group and a presentation on canine first aid by Republic veterinarian June Kanz.

“I thought it went great,” Maxwell said during a break between events. “All of the dogs and people seem to be having a good time.”

Although there were fewer dogs this year, Maxwell said the show was better organized.

High heat that day – reaching past 100 degrees in Tonasket – may have contributed to a low turnout.

“I’m pretty happy for the turnout, considering it’s our second one,” she said.

Individuals and businesses made donations to the show and Howling Ridge in preparation for the event. Highlandia Jewelry in Tonasket engraved the metal plaques mounted on stone statures from U.S. Stone.

“Thank God we have those kind of people in this community,” Maxwell said.

Sponsors included, from Tonasket: Highlandia Jewelers, Doggie in the Window, Lee Frank’s, Grant’s Market, Shannon’s Place, the Tonasket Feed Store and the Family Chiropractic Clinic. From Republic, Northern Inn, Anderson’s Grocery and Sportsmens Roost contributed. From Omak, Joey’s Bark ‘n Bath and Heather’s Dog Grooming. From Wauconda, Highlands Body Works contributed.

“Several local people also gave time, goods, and money to get this thing going,” Maxwell said. “Saint Francis (of Assissi) must be smiling on them all.”

All proceeds from the show will benefit Howling Ridge, Maxwell said. Last year’s show raised more than $1,000, she said.

This year’s show raised about $800.

“I wish we’d brought in more but that’s not bad, considering there were fewer people,” Maxwell said. High temperatures and other eastern Washington events may have kept crowds away.

“We’d like to help keep (shelter manager Wendy Sever) well into winter for this year,” Maxwell said.

Sever runs the Aeneas Valley shelter, which houses dogs and other animals looking for homes. She is currently constructing outdoor kennels for the rescued animals, Maxwell said.

“We really need her here,” Maxwell said.

So far this year, Sever has taken in 258 animals – dogs, cats, horses, birds, snakes. Anything that walks, crawls or flies has a safe place at Howling Ridge, she said.

“Howling Ridge is important because there’s no other place people can take any animal – wild, domesticated, reptile, or bird,” Sever said.

She and her husband have been at Howling Ridge for about 15 years, she said. She’s seen thousands of creatures come through in that time. The shelter currently holds about 12 dogs and one 39-year-old pony, she said.

“We can have from 10 to 60 dogs,” she said. “It depends on the day of the week.”

Fundraisers like the dog show are important to Howling Ridge, which operates entirely on donations. If there’s not enough money coming in, the shelter has to shut down.

“That hasn’t had to happen in a long time, but we have had some real thin times,” Steever said.

The top expenses for the shelter are vet bills and gasoline – a rising bill because of climbing gas prices. Sever usually makes a weekly day-long trip to the West Side to drop off dogs with adopters, she said.

“Finding homes for the animals is what matters,” she said. “It’s a one-day trip – it’s a lot of lattes.”

The shelter is also making an effort to reduce the number of dogs needing home through a spaying effort. In the last 18 months, Howling Ridge has spayed almost 400 female dogs, she said.

“I wanted to focus on how to make a dent in the population,” Steever said. “This seemed to be a good way to do it.”

Since that effort began, she’s seen fewer homeless dogs at her doorstep, she said.

Dogs adopted from Howling Ridge come spayed or neutered, with all shots up-to-date and veterinary checks performed. All adoptions are by donation.

Though Sever doesn’t have time to organize fundraisers, she appreciates the efforts of those around her.

“Activities like the dog show help keep Howling Ridge open,” she said.

And the participants at the show support what she does.

“If you’re going to get a dog, get it from Howling Ridge,” said Max, the unofficial MC at the show.

Sever and Howling Ridge can be reached at 509-486-2506.

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