North Whidbey park district holds Olympics for dogs

Oak Harbor was the home recently for a different kind of Olympics.

The North Whidbey Park and Recreation District last week held the first “Doggielympics” at the Clover Valley ball fields on Ault Field Road.

The light-hearted event drew six dogs that competed in three events – an obstacle course, a sprint and a fetch contest. In addition, several spectators watched and several passersby stopped to watch when they noticed the event.

“Six dogs in the competition doesn’t sound like much, but this was a perfect way to do a trial run and get some community feedback on this type of event for the coming years,” Bill Walker, executive director for North Whidbey Park and Recreation District, said in an email.

He credited the efforts of Katelin Fitzgerald, an assistant coach for the park district, who organized the event over the period of a couple of weeks. He thanked the volunteers – Jackie Towell, Jamel Judgeowens, Hanwen Zhong, and Justin Sprinkle – who organized the event, Island Pet Center for donating prizes and the Whidbey Animals Improvement Foundation for their help publicizing the event.

Walker said organizers were creative in using pool items for an obstacle course placed on a ball field. Dogs also raced over a distance of 50 to 75 yards and, during the fetch competition, they were judged on acrobatics and showmanship.

Walker said the district has been looking for another canine-related activity since canceling the always-popular dog swim that occurs each August before staff drains the John Vanderzicht Memorial Pool for maintenance. Officials decided against draining the pool this year to save money. He wasn’t sure yet if the dog swim event would take place next year.

He added that the canine event also gives a chance to show appreciation for the Fetch group, which helps manage the off-leach dog area at Clover Valley.

The park district hopes to organize a similar event next year now that staff has a better idea about what’s involved in such an event.


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