Wag ‘n’ Walk helps develop doggy skills

For Koda, a rat terrier/chihuahua mix, Sunday’s WAIF Wag ’n’ Walk festival at Greenbank Farm was more about coming out of his shell than getting in his smells.

Sure, Koda sniffed like the best of them, but when he got to the event, he was uncertain around the festival’s canine camaraderie.

For example, when Koda arrived at the hot-dog pools — three wading pools filled with water and wieners — he approached a pool, sniffed the meat, then backed up again. Koda performed this dance several times before he mustered up enough courage to take his first bite.

To complicate matters, a horde of huskies gallivanted into the pools, claiming the hotdogs as their own. But in the end, Koda put his fear to rest and got into the thick of things.

Melissa and Heidi Darling rescued Koda a while back and brought him to the festival to help him conquer his fears.

“Once we get him introduced slowly, then something like this becomes so great for him,” Melissa Darling said. “It’s just a huge difference…a lot less barking and a lot more wagging.”

Wag ’n’ Walk featured dozens of vendors that ranged from a Red Cross booth espousing proper pet emergency care to tents offering handmade collars and doggie beds. There were also events, like a safari dress-up contest and an agility competition.

There is usually a 5k walk and a 1k walk, but it was postponed until next year to optimize sign-ups, according to the WAIF website.

And of course there were doggy treats of pretty much every type imaginable. One stand even had puppy Oreos for a four-legged ones only.

Over at the agility course, Rikki the Australian Shepherd and his trainer Peggi Lavier watched as Patty Stallone and the experienced Reba ran the course before them.

Reba whizzed through the tube, flew over the jumps and weaved around the poles like an old pro.

Rikki might have been nervous because it was his first public run and he was up next, but he didn’t let it show.

When the announcer said he and Peggy could run the course, he conquered every obstacle with an effort of concentration. His run wasn’t fluid, but it was determined. And by the end, Rikki could strut with pride.

“He did good, he was a little distracted, but that’s OK, that’s why we’re here,” Lavier said. “He’s young, and hasn’t been out much in this big of a crowd, so I was pleased.”

Veteran agility runners, Patty Stallone and Reba, run the WAIF Wag ‘n’ Walk’s central agility course Sunday at Greenbank Farm. Photo by Daniel Warn/Whidbey News-Times

Rikki the Australian Shepherd and his trainer Peggi Lavier run the agility course at a public event for the first time. Rikki did well, even if he was a bit distracted by the crowd. Photo by Daniel Warn/ Whidbey News-Times

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