By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
WYANDOTTE – Human dog parents and their furry, four-footed children had the run of the downtown June 17 with Biddle closed from Oak to Eureka during the inaugural Bark on Biddle.
Foot traffic was lighter than hoped for, with an average temperature of 78 degrees and a high of 87 degrees, thunderstorms predicted, and nearby Southgate and Riverview hosting concurrent festivals.
While some shopkeepers offered pet-friendly policies during the event, other business owners felt the road closure kept away some of their regular customers.
Volunteer Autumn Foley of Home Furever, a no-kill, foster-based canine rescue non-profit group, said they initiated an average number of dog adoptions for an event of this nature, but the foot traffic was lighter than they expected it to be.
Foley said they brought about 40 adoptable dogs to the event, and had initiated adoptions for 12 dogs.
“Everybody is just awestruck by our puppies,” she said. “They just love them.”
The group had many adoptable pit bulls, a breed which Foley said has an undeserved bad reputation.
“I have a pit bull myself, and she is one of my best dogs,” she said, “and I have many different breeds in my home.
Kathleen O’Neill came from Palatine, Ill., to be with her “grand-dog” Legacy, a border collie, who was part of the Ultimate Air Dog exhibition of dogs jumping for distance into a temporary above-ground pool.
“It’s an upcoming, fun sport, and the dogs love it,” O’Neill said.
Cindy Chasse of Findlay, Ohio, Legacy’s human mom, said they travel to many dog events throughout the summer for distance diving and disc catching competitions. They also have an Australian shepherd dog.
Christine and Mark Mol attend dog festivals with their Barren River Chesapeake Bay retrievers Drake, 3, and 1-year-old Maggie May.
“These are our ‘kids,’ and this is their sport,” Christine Mol, who is retired, said. “It’s fun, and we meet lots of people. We are just a big dog family.”
Drake can jump 24 feet, 7 inches, and Maggie May, for whom Bark on Biddle was her first official jumping event, measured her best jump at 15-2.
“It’s fun, the camaraderie,” she said. “Everyone is here for the same reason, and we are just one big Ultimate Air Dog family.”
Cynthia Frank of Riverview, who attended with her poodle Charming, 2, said event planners need more recreational vehicle parking for people who travel to dog events from outside the local area. RVs were taking up multiple parking spaces in regular lots.
Frank said she thought it was great to be able to walk down Biddle during a festival and eat at select restaurants with her dog.
“Wyandotte has been very anti-dog, in my opinion, so I think this is great,” Frank said. “They need more shade, but other than that, if they keep the momentum going, they will attract more vendors. I hope they keep with it.”
(Sue Suchyta can be reached at [email protected].)