Sarah Starr and Hazel, her mini goldendoodle dog, had just won the Owner Look Alike contest at the Paws in the Park canine coming out event Saturday at Desert Breeze Park in northwest Las Vegas.
“Hazel looks like me,” said the blond-haired Starr, 37, beside her fiancee, James Drespel, 40. “We resemble each other. She is friendly and sweet and she’s always smiling and she’s a happy girl.”
Given the enormous response — with people arriving in droves for the free gathering — it was a big hit, as hundreds of people roamed with their dogs, on leashes or pushed in carriages, in a large grassy section of the Clark County park at 8275 Spring Mountain Road.
It served as a showcase for a huge variety of different breeds and sizes of dogs, their owners giving in to frequent stops so that their pet could sniff one or a group of dogs as they passed by.
And it was a surprisingly peaceful affair, attributable perhaps to the dedication of many of the owners in training their dogs to behave.
“You don’t hear any barking or fighting or anything like that, so it’s nice to do something for the dogs,” said Deaven Holcomb, standing with his 3-year-old golden retriever, Apollo.
“It’s nice to see all these dogs together,” said 14-year-old Alexa Geincer, a brunette who made it to the finals for the look-alike contest with her dark-haired goldendoodle named Kirby. “I think that people are drawn to dogs that kind of look like them,” Geincer said.
Ashley Thomas, 38, of Henderson, said she rescued her 17-month-old dog, Zena, from the Humane Society and is waiting for results of a DNA test to see what breed she is, although Thomas guesses Zena might be a husky and chow mix.
“I love it. Think this is good for the community and it’s good for our dogs to find friends around the community,” Thomas said.
‘People love their dogs’
Hosted by Clark County Parks and Recreation and the Beasley Media Group, the occasion was also a mix of pet commerce and support for animal welfare.
In canopy-covered booths, vendors offered organic dog treats, dog bandanas, artificial turf, CBD products and services such as canine boarding, day care, training, coaching and grooming.
But the event also showcased nonprofit dog adoption and rescue organizations in the Las Vegas Valley.
One was Vegas Roots Rescue, co-founded four years ago by Las Vegas native Britney Davis, who said the group has rescued and placed more than 1,000 animals — from dogs to cats and farm animals — in new homes.
The service prepares the animals for placement, making sure that animals have their shots, are spayed or neutered, and are going to an appropriate home without breed restrictions, Davis said.
“We ask if you rent or own,” she said. “Our pit bulls do not go to apartments. We do a home check, we make sure your home is suitable, the dog can’t get out, cleanliness, things like that.”
Another organization present was Pawtastic Friends, which takes dogs out of shelters, fosters and trains them “so that when they are adopted, it’s more successful,” according to Susan Iovino, volunteer coordinator.
The organization just started to offer private dog training, a six-week program with weekly sessions for $249 that includes nose work, socialization and agility training.
Ultimately, Starr attributed the popularity of Paws to the fact that “people love their dogs and they bring so much joy to your life.”
“I think it’s fun to see other people who want to just enjoy and celebrate their animals.”