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Call it the seven-year itch. For the past six years, volunteers at and friends of the Evanston Animal Shelter have organized and participated in an annual fundraising walk with their dogs called Trot for Tails.
This year, the event’s seventh, the dedicated folks who run the shelter decided to mix things up a bit. In addition to the walk, this year’s event included activities for every family member, both two-legged and four-legged.
Centennial Park from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 23, was packed with about 200 pet owners and their dogs, pet-centric vendors, their tables piled with samples and promotional information about their specific businesses.
Two volunteers were in charge of face-painting children of all ages, resulting in sparkles and at least one Ukrainian flag. There were snacks and drinks available for purchase and a raffle wheel to spin and obtain prizes like gift cards to local businesses, candy and other treats.
An agility course was featured to test the athletic mettle of the canines collecting in Centennial Park. A temporary fence gathered the equipment within a loosely spaced course, which included plastic dowels for jumping over and a short fabric tunnel to run through. But most of the dogs, regardless of size or breed, showed little interest in following directions.
Instead of jumping, running or walking on a doggie-sized balance beam, there was a lot of negotiating between the participants and their human owners. When the course became crowded with more than two or three dogs, athletic action was delayed while dog flirting commenced. After two years of COVID-19 restrictions, who could blame them?
One novel business that was exhibiting, Cuddle Bunny, is a Lakeview-based company that offers “a comfortable space where customers can enjoy the companionship of domesticated rabbits,” including fitness and holistic services such as bunny yoga, creative writing, crafting and tie-dye events.
Unfortunately, no bunnies were present to demonstrate bunny yoga, which the RoundTable would have studiously documented given the opportunity.
David Bond, of Bond Artisan Foods, is an Evanston beekeeper who was there selling homemade honey and baked goods. It was too warm outside for Bond to bring his bean-to-bar chocolates to sell or sample, but the sourdough crackers he offered were delicious.
Vicky Pasenko loves her second career as Executive Director of the Evanston Animal Shelter. Her responsibilities are wide ranging, but raising money for the shelter is always top of mind. The goal for Trot for Tails was $30,000 and Pasenko was optimistic the group will meet their goal. The night before the event they had already received gifts and commitments for more than $24,000.
Before the group started on their walk around Northwestern’s lakefront, there was a call for all shelter alumni to gather for a group photo. Of course it was impossible to get all the participants to hold still and look at the photographers simultaneously, but no one cared. Some of the alumni parents traveled from outside the Evanston-Skokie area to support the shelter that had completed their families.
Best of all, every dog there lives in a home now instead of a kennel.