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Rock Creek goes to the dogs for annual Pups in the Park
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Kathryn Younghouse, 11, gets kisses from a puppy available for pre-adoption at the Dawson County Humane Society at the Pups in the Park festival at Rock Creek Park on April 13. - Photo by Jessica Taylor

Dog lovers and their pampered pooches came out to Rock Creek Park in droves Saturday to celebrate all things dog at the annual Pups in the Park festival.

The Dawson County Humane Society hosted its annual festivities on April 13 that gave animal lovers a chance to meet adoptable dogs and cats, kiss Buttercup the cow, get their pups blessed, compete in costume contests and bid on silent auction items.

Proceeds from the day benefited the humane society and will help the no-kill shelter provide for its adoptable animals.

“It’s going great. This is by far the best turnout we’ve had,” shelter director Jason Hutcherson said.

The festivities kicked off with a 5k run in the morning with more than 100 participants, double last year’s turnout, according to Hutcherson.

“I’m glad we moved it from September to April,” Hutcherson said. “The weather’s been a lot better.”

Hutcherson said the plan is to continue hosting Pups in the Park in the spring as the cooler weather and less competition with fall events brought in a larger crowd.

The large draw was especially great for the adoptable dogs and cats that hoped to find their families during Saturday’s event.

“They’re going to be big, but they’re sweethearts and they’re very loving,” said volunteer Jessica Younghouse as she held up an adoptable puppy.

Younghouse and her 11 year-old daughter, Kathryn, sat in a pen with four American Staffordshire Terrier mix puppies ready to be adopted on Easter and told passersby all about the cuddly pups.

“She’s the reason we volunteer,” Younghouse said, looking at her daughter. “She’s very passionate about animals.”

The mother and daughter duo have been volunteering at the humane society for about a year, helping to walk the dogs, visit with the cats and occasionally writing biographies for the dogs.

“I always want to go. I just want to come here every day,” Kathryn said.  

Volunteers and dog owners alike gathered together in the early afternoon with their dogs for a celebratory pup parade, in which rescue dogs led the way around the Rock Creek Park pavilion.

“She cleans up well,” Gary Holly said about his rescue dog, Cali, as she pranced around in the parade.

Cali, a 3 year old Plott Hound, was adopted by Holly from the Dawson County Humane Society a year and a half ago.

“According to them, when she came to them, she didn’t have any hair. She had lived in the forest for a while and was in bad shape,” Holly said.

Originally named Coldstone by the shelter staff, Cali was returned three times because of her hyper personality until Holly made her part of his family.

“She turned out to be a great girl,” Holly said.

 “Rescues are the best,” Hutcherson said. “The appreciation that rescues have, to me, you can’t beat it.”