Dog Festival

Sarah Radbourne with her dog, Kiera Blaze. 

Though dogs remain banished from the Commons, Ithacans will celebrate human’s best friend on Aug. 17 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the dog park at Allen Treman Marine State Park as part of the Ithaca Dog Festival, sponsored and created by Bo’s Bones.

Six years ago, Jen Sage of Bo’s Bones started the festival because she wanted to do something to support the many animal rescue entities in the area. Since most of the rescues are run by volunteers, Sage wanted to ensure they had some financial support. All donations and admissions from the festival will be donated to local rescues in the area. The vendors vary from veterinarians who specialize in alternative methods of healing to people selling special carry all pouches to carry a leash, doggy bags, and other pet sundries. 

Vendors at the festival include Dr. Sarah Dayon with the Wellness Center for Pets and Dr. Sophie Trowbridge of Water's Edge Integrative Veterinary Services. Also, Town and Country Pet Grooming, owned by Julie Bennett, will be providing free nail clippings. Other organizations coming to the festival are local rescue groups looking for people to foster dogs, according to Sage.

“There’s one group coming who specifically raises money for three shelters,” Sage said. “They make all kinds of beautiful things for a dog and everything they make from their sales they donate to shelters. So, it’s a nice range of practical useful things and some fun, maybe silly things.”

Sage said the day’s true attraction is the possibility of adopting a dog. Rescue organizations will be bringing pictures, stories, and even some actual pups to the event to hopefully hook some people into either adopting a dog, fostering one temporarily or volunteering some time to help with caring for the dogs, like taking them for walks.  

The local rescue groups that will be attending the festival are the Golden Retriever Rescue of Central New York, Helping Hounds Dog Rescue, Humane Society of Schuyler County, KARMA (Keeshond Affiliated Rescuers of the Mid Atlantic), the SPCA of Tompkins County, the Kramer Foundation, Paws Across Oswego County, and the Chemung County Humane Society and SPCA.)

This year, the festival is asking for donations of dog food, though cash is just as good. Sage has been looking to dispel the myth that rescues and shelters are similar when in fact they both have different purposes. While shelters have a facility, rescues are a group of people who will work to find foster homes for the dogs but don’t have an actual facility. 

Sarah Rodbourne, one of the board members of the Tompkins County Dog Owners Group (TCDOG), has had a series of good experiences with the festival. She began going to the festival as a patron but got more involved and saw it was a great event for local dog owners to gather together to celebrate their animals. One of her favorite experiences was at last year’s festival. 

“Last year, they had a really cute photo booth,” Rodbourne said. “It had a little sign that said ‘Cutest Pumpkin in the patch’ and I got a really cute picture of my dog and I. I like the shopping, I like talking to the different rescues, and giving my dog a chance to socialize because she’s a little wary of strangers and other dogs. It’s just another chance to meet other like-minded people.”

Bo’s Bones will also be giving out their annual charity grant, which they have for the last few years. Though it isn’t a lot of money, it is enough to do some good and help these groups. While Sage has been involved with the festival for years, she still finds that seeing people’s eyes light up at a particular dog is a delight. 

“Maybe they’ve been looking for a particular kind of dog and someone has one available,” Sage said. “Often people don’t know how to go about finding an adoptable dog. They know about the big SPCA here in the county, everyone knows about them, but there are lots of small groups around also. [...] I like seeing people happy and most dog lovers just grin from ear to ear in the presence of dogs. It’s watching the dogs be happy and watching the people be happy.”

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