Sunday, May 15, 2011

Every Dog Has It's Day

Every dog has its day

Anthony Callea with Oscar . Photo: Melanie Faith Dove

More than 10,000 dogs - and a pig - united yesterday for the RSPCA's Million Paws Walk.
ZIVA the Great Dane isn't accustomed to canine challengers at her Nar Nar Goon home, but yesterday she found it was the little yappy dogs with a Napoleon complex you had to look out for at Albert Park Lake.

They'd run up courageously in a barking frenzy, only to be met with an expression of mild amusement as she strode past, careful not to squash them with her giant paws.

The blue harlequin Great Dane walked a lap of the five-kilometre lake course with her owners, Carol Smith and son Rylan, 14, along with about 10,000 other dogs and their 17,000 human companions yesterday in the Million Paws Walk.

The annual fund-raiser for the RSPCA is the biggest event on the social calendar for dog owners and their charges.

The lake's black swans retreated to the safety of the water to avoid the parade of all varieties of pooch, from fluffy handbag-sized dogs in pink woolly jumpers to the muzzled butch breeds with spiked collars.

Some owners decided to show off - or humiliate - their pets in sunflower and bumblebee costumes, Collingwood coats, woolly turtlenecks or fur-lined jackets.

Regardless of their attire or neatly combed coats, most dogs delighted in splashing through the puddles and mud, then slopping paw prints on their owners. The Dalmatians appeared to multiply as mud-splattered white-coated dogs blended in with them.

''I don't think there was a clean dog in sight - or an owner,'' RSPCA spokesman Tim Pilgrim said.

''We were a bit worried about the weather, but the dog-loving community have shown us they will come out to support us in rain, hail or shine.''

In a re-enactment of the movie Babe, there was a major upset in the competition arena when a small pig called Polly outshone all the canine competitors to win the best trick competition with her fetching, hand-shaking and agility skills.

Singer Anthony Callea put his diamante-collared Labrador Oscar through the agility course in a celebrity event.

The dog was adopted from the RSPCA after being rescued as a puppy when he was found tied with barbed wire with his tail cut off .

''Now he is living the life of luxury,'' Callea said.

While working sheepdogs demonstrated their herding abilities in the arena, another dog aspiring to join the workforce received some training working the crowd.

Ross Jackson's young Labrador Neptune wore his L-plates to show he was in training to become a customs dog, although yesterday he enjoyed a day of strictly social sniffing.

''He's very affectionate and loves being around all the other dogs,'' his Cranbourne owner said of the third customs dog he has had in his care.

Was it hard to let the dogs go when they got their government jobs?

''Not at all, as you just get another one and you constantly have puppies,'' he said.

Lorna Edwards
The Age
May 16, 2011.

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