Ninth Mutt Strut raises thousands

Published 10:30 pm Monday, May 8, 2017

Thousands of humans and their companions from the animal kingdom flooded Bennett’s Creek Park on Saturday to help raise money for the Suffolk Humane Society.

The day had an uncharacteristic chill in the air, perfect for dogs and their people to have fun at the ninth annual Mutt Strut without getting overheated. A couple of brief, light showers failed to ruin the good time being had by pets or their people.

“I think it went very well,” said Rhonda Jones of the Suffolk Humane Society. “It seemed like it was well attended.”

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Jones said the society did not yet have a final total on the amount raised, but it came into the event about $10,000 ahead due to sponsorships.

Mutt Strut visitors Deja Grays, left, with Athena, and Ajami Grays, with Kovu, were among the hundreds of humans and dogs that visited the ninth annual fundraising event for the Suffolk Humane Society at Bennett’s Creek Park on Sunday.

This year’s event featured many new activities for pups and people alike.

“There are lots of new things this year people seemed very excited about,” Jones said.

Humans could partake in a cornhole tournament and have some beer, while dogs could compete in a talent contest and do “lure coursing,” which had them following a white lure on a system of mechanized pulleys. Pups could also have their pictures taken with Summer Santa, who sported sandals, shorts and a Hawaiian shirt with a traditional red-and-white Santa hat.

Old favorites, such as the Frosty Paws eating contest, canine demonstrations and of course the pledge walk also filled the day with excitement. The Rev. Eileen Walsh of St. Christopher Episcopal Church in Portsmouth did a blessing of the animals before the pledge walk, starting with a general prayer and giving a blessing to several individual animals whose owners lined up for the privilege.

For Chris Grady, who was a first-time visitor at the event, seeing dogs watching other dogs participate in activities was the best part of the event.

“Watching dogs watch dogs — that was entertaining,” he said. His family includes five children and dog Aslan — named after the lion in “The Chronicles of Narnia” — and they were all at the event.

“This is the largest dog event I have been to with our dogs,” Grady said. “And all the dogs behaved themselves pretty well.”

Jones said it seemed like more children were in attendance this year, which was nice.

Many of them were members of the Animal Lovers’ Club at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, such as Makaela Waddington. She has been in the club for two years. She came with her mom, Rebecca Kiser, and their dog, Duke.

“I wanted to bring Duke so he could see all the other dogs,” Kiser said.

Jones said the event went very well overall.

“It couldn’t have gotten any better,” she said.