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Wags for Wishes: a howling good time


Last updated 7/19/2007 at Noon

The dogs had a howling good time at the fifth annual Make-A-Wish Foundation of San Diego’s fundraiser, Wags for Wishes, held at the Del Mar Horse Park July 6 through 8. All the money raised at this event will go to granting wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses and medical conditions living in San Diego County – including Fallbrook and Bonsall.

“This is such a popular event, because people love dogs and their pets, and it is such a natural tie-in with kids and families,” said Rachel Gershwin, director of marketing and development of Make-A-Wish Foundation (MAW) of San Diego. “It’s a really fun family event and it is so unique.”

This unparalleled venue has become a magnet for canine sports enthusiasts and contenders. It remains one of the most extensive dog events of its kind on the west coast. The agility competition, for example, is one of the largest American Kennel Club-sanctioned trials in the country. Serious-minded competitors travel from different parts of the nation to enter the Wags for Wishes competitions.

“We [MAW] have created an event that is well-known and well-respected within the world of dog sports,” said Gershwin.

This year, Wags for Wishes hosted more than 2,000 canine competitors over the course of the three-day event.

“There are ten different competitions to watch,” Gershwin explained. These athletically inclined dogs show off their talents in fly ball, dock diving, sheep herding, disc catching, agility, carting, conformation, lure coursing, obedience and weight pulling. It is quite an impressive spectacle.

Non-competitors were able have some one-on-one canine fun, too. Some dogs bolted down a lure course on the hunt for a furry object attached to a motorized wire, while others made a huge splash at the dock diving site.

Lisa Stram, who waited at the sidelines of the lure race course with her sprightly Belgian Malinois, Mona, expressed how much her pup loved this race.

“Mona really likes this, and I really like the charity that we are supporting,” said Stram.

Mark Stuart, a member of the steering committee and chairperson of the Splash Dogs recreational event, said that it was the world’s largest jumping event in the history of this sport. Lines of fired-up pet owners and pups were ready to take the plunge.

“It is the most exciting thing ever,” said pet owner Barbara Morrison, with her (damp) 4-year-old yellow Labrador, Cody, by her side. She confessed that she thought Splash Dogs was more exciting for her than her dog, but by the look of her pup paddling around in the pool, he was having a doggone good time.

“This is a great event and I am so happy to be a part of it,” said Morrison.

At LG Vendor Village, sponsored by LG Mobile, pet owners and their pooches meandered in and out of 50 vendor booths – many of which were selling pet-related products. On the far side of Vendor Village, an adoption area was hosted by the PETCO Foundation and Halo. Fuzzy, enthusiastic dogs, both large and small, were adopted by loving people.

Last year, Wags for Wishes raised just over $100,000; this year, they are hoping the final count will tally closer to $150,000 for the “Wish” kids.

Organizers of Wags for Wishes said they were thankful for all the event sponsors, particularly San Diego Credit Union, who underwrote the majority of expenses for the event.

The San Diego branch of the nonprofit Make-A-Wish Foundation was established in 1983.

“We expect to grant about 165 wishes this year and have granted more than 2,000 since we were founded here in San Diego County,” said Gershwin. She explained that all funds are raised locally for the wishes granted in San Diego County, so this event helps raise the money needed to help grant those wishes. On a national level, MAW has granted nearly 150,000 wishes.

Volunteers associated with Wags for Wishes say it is a wonderful way to engage the community and help raise money for such a worthy cause.

The power of a wish is very special for kids – it provides hope and something to look forward to during the most challenging of times.


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