With tails wagging and the opportunity to show off, the canine entrants at the Phelps County Animal Welfare League’s (PCAWL) “Strut Your Mutt” event, were primed to have as much or more fun than their human counterparts on the other end of the leash.

With tails wagging and the opportunity to show off, the canine entrants at the Phelps County Animal Welfare League’s (PCAWL) “Strut Your Mutt” event, were primed to have as much or more fun than their human counterparts on the other end of the leash.

Held at Ber Juan Park on Saturday, this 16th annual event hosted and officiated a myriad of contests, auctions and events for the participants to engage in, all while benefiting what the organization views as a much needed service to the community.

“The main focus [of the Phelps County Animal Welfare League] is assisting people with spaying and neutering,” said Sherry Mahnken, a volunteer with the organization. “This area has a lot of people who need assistance to get that done.”

In order to achieve these goals, PCAWL uses registration fees from the walk, proceeds from the silent auction, and assistance from sympathetic business sponsors in the area.

One of the highlights of the event is the silent auction, which showcases rowed tables of canine-themed goodies and treats that can be bid upon in a friendly fashion. Bags of high-nutrition dog food, and baskets filled with pup-cakes seemed to tempt the eye of many of the walk’s participants. While not only satisfying their canine’s cravings, all successful bidding proceeds went directly to the League’s mission to help the local animal community.

“The money actually goes to help spay and neuter [programs], an animal food pantry for low income families and to help support the building of a new shelter.” said PCAWL President Sarah Green.

 ‘Strut your Mutt’ is focused on more than just the benefits for PCAWL, however. “I think it’s a great chance for people to get out and meet their neighbors and build community,” said Kai Walker, a participant of the walk and owner of the recipient of the ‘Cutest Dog’ award.

With competitions ranging from smallest to tallest pooch, best dressed, best trick and even best bark, the range of talent was on display for all to see. Satchmo, a dachshund and terrier mix, was one such winner of an event. Tiny brown paws, a belly low to the ground and a tongue primed for his owner’s face scored him the ultimate victory in the ‘Best Kisser’ category. His owner joked how he never grew tired of it, and the bond between the two added new meaning to the slogan ‘man’s best friend’.

Saturday proved to be a draining day for some of the more fluffy-coated participants of the walk. By the beginning of the event, temperatures had already reached into a humid mid-80’s climb, but Ber Juan Park provided ample shade and cool spots for the dogs to claim as their own, and the Welfare League even provided a kiddie pool of ice water for the parched four-legged walkers. From the tiniest of Chihuahuas to the most massive of mutts, the communal love for animals is what brought the community together for the event, and the volunteers agreed.

Sherry Mahnken spoke with smile, “It’s just a great day for people to come out, bring their dogs out, socialize and see other people’s dogs.”