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September 4, 2007 > 'Tail Waggin' Walk and Appreciation Day

'Tail Waggin' Walk and Appreciation Day

By Mekala Raman

At 9 a.m. on Saturday, September 8, while the rest of the city is slowly waking up to their morning coffee, hundreds of dogs and cats will be warming up and stretching out in preparation for the monumental feat ahead - a Jungle-Safari hike around Fremont's Lake Elizabeth. After completing the 3K course, these furry friends and their humans will enjoy a multitude of refreshments, music,, and dancing. In addition, they can enter raffles, a silent auction, and a costume contest.

"Tail Waggin'" Walk and Appreciation Day, organized by founder and president of Furry Friends Rescue (FFR), Emily Verna, has been held for the last four years. The organization was created in November of 1998 and since then has rescued more than 10,000 companion animals. FFR works to prevent euthanizing animals by finding people with loving and caring homes to adopt them. Animals are given veterinary exa.m.inations, immunizations, and are neutered. "We are doing a lot of good work, saving a lot of animals and networking with different shelters. We also do a lot of community events and showcases," says Verna. With enough funding, FFR hopes to ultimately build a Northern California Safe Haven Sanctuary. However, their primary concern is to save animals before they are put to sleep.

The current problem is that animal shelters are filled beyond capacity with more constantly added. Shelters routinely euthanize occupants to maintain manageable numbers. FFR tries to save these "extra" animals by looking for homes willing to adopt them. "We strive to find adoption homes that will cherish the animals for life. That's something that we really want to stress," explains Verna. "We try to make the adoption process more personal so that once the animal moves into a foster home we know the owners will care for that pet. They won't be dumped on the street because we know the people won't change their minds or think it's too much work. These pets will forever be a fa.m.ily member."

In addition to saving animals from a premature death, Furry Friends Rescue has a Youth Volunteer and Education Progra.m., Guardian Assist Progra.m., public education and progra.m.s on spay and neuter, and provides contact information for different ways of taking care of pets. The Youth Volunteer and Education Progra.m. works with local high schools and students, many completing community service hours for school. Students go through a safety orientation and then work with the animals. However, there are other volunteers, ages 12 and up who work with FFR by following their commitment to its goal. During showcases, Verna uses her dog, Orlando, to teach children how to approach pets. Any pet owners may contact the organization for the Guardian Assist progra.m. if they feel that they need help to raise their pet properly. "Even though our primary work is to visit shelters and make sure animals aren't put to sleep, this is a way for us to help people case by case," says Verna.

The Walk and Appreciation Day on September 8 is an opportunity for pets and their owners to have fun while raising funds for these projects. "We usually get an average of 350 participants and, of course, this year we are hoping for more. Before, we have raised up to $30,000 and we'd love to surpass that," remarks Verna. The entry fee for the event is $35 and in return the participants get a t-shirt, bandanna, snacks, goodie bag, and participation in all the contests. The $35 fee will be waived if the participant can collect $125 or more in pledges. Raising $150 in pledges comes with all of the above plus a collapsible FFR dog water bowl, $250 earns that and a FFR fanny pack, and $400 warrants all of that and a special book and a FFR t-shirt. Registration and Pledge forms are available online.

The day will also be featuring a Canine Demo called Canine Freestyle by Ruthanna. In this sport, dogs are trained to use their basic obedience skills put to music to perform different tricks. It can be enjoyed by dogs young or old and of any shape and size. It helps to strengthen the relationship between dogs and their owners and keeps older dogs moving and channels the younger dogs' abundant energy.

Dogs that attend will also have an opportunity to flaunt new outfits in the Dog Costume Contest Parade. Registration for this event is included for those who participate in the walk; otherwise there is a $5 registration fee. Pets can also get a free sitting for professional portraits taken by Weston Photography.

"We hope everybody comes out for the 5th annual "Tail Waggin'" Walk and Appreciation Day to raise pledges to rescue the lives of abandoned dogs and cats," says Verna. "Please come for the walk with or without your pets and come join us for the fun, and contests!"

Schedule of Events:

11:00 - 3:00 p.m. Tri-City Animal Shelter Mobile Adoption RV
9:00 a.m. Registration opens
9:45 a.m. Stretch & Warm Up
10:00 a.m. Walk begins
11:30 a.m. Highest Pledge Awards ceremony
12:00 p.m. Canine Demo
12:30 p.m. Dog Costume Contest Parade
1:00 p.m. Best Trick, Waggiest Tail & Games

Furry Friends Rescue and "Tail Waggin'" Walk and Appreciation Day
Saturday, Sept 8
9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Fremont Central Park, Area A
40000 Paseo Padre Parkway & Baylis St., Fremont
(510) 790-5541

Canine Freestyle: visit
Pet portraits visit or

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