Here's what went down.
The Strut's main event involves a 1k or 5k walk that humans and their dogs can participate in. The walk is in a public space, so technically no registration is required. But most people who come do register. And there's good reason to do so. Everyone who registers for the event gets a little blue tee shirt like this one, and every dog gets a little bandana to wear. Sinead absolutely hates bandanas, so we skipped that part. But hubby and I dutifully donned tee shirts. And boy, were there a lot of shirts out there.
All told, some 500 people registered for the event. So the park in Salem was an absolute sea of blue. That makes my heart swell, as every person who registered made a donation to the shelter.
Normally, when we go to this event, we show up right when it starts. But that means we end up doing a walk with a whole ton of other people. That's a little overwhelming for Sinead. She's worried she'll be stepped on or bitten, so she shivers and shakes and tries to get people to hold her.
Over the last year, I've been doing a ton of shy dog training. And we put that to good use today. But we also planned ahead for her. We didn't go when the event began. We came later. That meant we were starting the walk when others were ending their walk. See that clump of people back there? We're passing them, not walking with them. Sinead found that experience preferable.
The first leg of the walk takes you over the Willamette River, which is wonderfully cool this time of year. We stopped to catch our breath here, and Sinead got to look at some dogs walking by. She was very calm and relaxed here, with ears forward and body loose. That's a huge improvement from last year, and it means our training is working.
When we started walking again, Sinead became so confident that she popped out to say hello to a few people walking by. And she exchanged a friendly nose tap with a small stranger dog. A year ago, that would have been impossible. Today, she felt pretty good about it.
But not everything about the day made Sinead leap for joy. We met this alpaca, for example, and Sinead thought that thing was pretty damn scary. She's running away from it here, and she's fleeing from the children who were petting the alpaca, too. I don't really blame her for that one, but we will need to keep up with the training so she can learn to handle new experiences.
All in all, Sinead had a great day. And I can thank Willamette Humane Society for that great day. I took her to the shelter for their Shy Dog class last summer, and I've been working those lessons ever since. Without those lessons, she wouldn't have done so well today. So I'm happy to support the organization with donations, fundraisers and my time.
And thanks to all of you who helped me to raise money during my walk. More than 90% of the funds raised during the Strut go directly to animal welfare costs at the shelter. Donations allow the shelter both to rehome pets and to train pets (so they don't need rehoming in the first place). It's a great cause, right? Thanks for supporting it.