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October 14, 2009 > New Haven Schools Foundation's first annual Mutt Strut

New Haven Schools Foundation's first annual Mutt Strut

By Suzanne Ortt

New Haven Schools Foundation knows how to put the fun in fund raising. Their first annual Mutt Strut on Saturday, October 10 is proof. This fledging attempt on the Masonic Homes' grounds had a dog run, entertaining games, a good barbecue lunch and music by DJ Jay Bennett. Even the weather cooperated - sun and no wind.

Phil Crosby, president of the New Haven Schools Foundation, opened proceedings by welcoming and thanking everyone. There was a special presentation, "Leader of the Pack Award," to John Surdilla, a 1989 Logan High School graduate who donated $2,000, raised from marathons, to the Foundation.

The Mutt Strut, a well-organized event, started with the walk of dogs and handlers. Two serious runners (dog-less) participated, too. Stephen Boesch ran five laps in 21 minutes.

Sixty dogs of all breeds were present. In the crowd was the striking Mr. Bojangles (Bo), a 138 lb. bloodhound. Tony Crowley, his owner, explained that Bo's special talent is doing the soft-shoe when his ears are scratched. This pair walks four to six miles daily. Conspicuous among the throng were Charlie and Angel, both dachshund/Chihuahua mix. These brothers caught everyone's attention with their colorful bandanas. A white jindo, a unique breed of hunting dog known to have originated on Jindo Island, near South Korea, was spotted. All sixty dogs were well-mannered except for minimal barking.

The post-race activities began with hot dog-eating contests for small, medium and large dogs. Musical chairs for owners and dogs (humans and dogs both had to sit) was a unique twist to a classic game. Beauty contests with queen, king, princess and prince categories followed. Dogs with the waggiest tails also received special recognition.

During the festivities, all could enjoy the BBQ lunch of hot dogs, hamburgers, chips, fruit, cookies and water. Volunteers were visible and essential to the Mutt Strut. Logan High students, Girl Scouts troops 32403 and 31783 and Masonic Home residents all helped. Dr. Raj Salwan, American Animal Care Clinic, generously donated his services and examined dogs as requested by owners.

Race winners: MALE - Stephen Boesch; FEMALE - Laura Vivanco. Runners with dogs won in the following categories: MALE - Mike Armstrong with son Eric and Tokyo; FEMALE - Carina Vier with Tyson; BOY - Brandon Okumura and Pepsi; GIRL - Tomiko Godoy with Friday; YOUNGEST PARTICIPANT - Isabella Robles pushed in a stroller by mom, Jenny (no dog); OLDEST PARTICIPANT - Patricia Hurley.

Kudos must go to New Haven Schools Foundation officers, directors and the Mutt Strut committee. Financial donors included the Masonic Homes, Tri-Ced Community Recycling, Steel Metals Workers, Fremont Bank. Comcast, California Supply, Inc., Millennium Housing, Nat'l. Electrical Contractors, Local Union #595 I.B.E.W. and UA Local 342 Plumbers& Steamfitters. Allied Waste, American Animal Care Center, City of Union City, Kaiser Permanente, New Haven Unified School District and Smart 'N' Final gave in-kind donations.

Barbara Aro-Vallee, Executive Director, happily reported the first annual Mutt Strut was a financial success. The foundation benefited by approximately $12,000. She anticipates the 2010 Mutt Strut will be even better.

For more information about the New Haven Schools Foundation, visit www.nhsfoundation.com. Donations accepted online.

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