Mona Shield-Payne / Special to the Sun
Saturday, March 8, 2014 | 4:15 p.m.
Bright skies and cool breezes graced pooches of all breeds and sizes as they played fetch, stretched out over grass and made new friends Saturday during Henderson's Bark in the Park, the city's annual homage to canine companionship.
The daylong event at Cornerstone Park was a chance for the city to promote dog adoption services, and it also offered an opportunity for 60 pet-oriented businesses and nonprofit organizations to tout their services from booths stationed throughout the park.
More than 2,000 wagging tails bustled around the park for five hours while humans went about their business above them:
Darin Roodman inspected the black dog's large and curiously shaped ears as it romped with its canine friends inside a playpen.
"What kind of dog is that?" he asked the woman tending to the animals.
"A Chiweenie," Manda Baker said as a grin spread across her face.
Half Chihuahua, half Dachshund.
Chihuahua variations such as the Chiweenie — this one was named Savannah — are commonly found in shelters because they are overbred, said Jane Young, who co-founded a dog rescue service with Baker in 2010.
Pit bulls are also commonly found in shelters for the same reason, Young said. In fact, it was a box stuffed with seven abandoned pit bull puppies in 2010 that inspired the two Pahrump women to create Furgotten Dog Rescue Inc.
"Backyard breeders think they'll be valuable, but then it turns out they're not," she said. "We always have these."
"Everybody wants puppies"
Alyssa Averett, a volunteer at the Henderson Animal Shelter, cradled two trembling, wide-eyed puppies in her arms as one person after another stopped to pet the irresistibly cute creatures.
She and Shelly Booth, a kennel attendant at the shelter, were surprised the chocolate Chihuahuas had gone unadopted while two older dogs, ages 6 and 3, had already been snatched up.
"Age is always a factor," Booth said. "Everybody wants puppies."
An interactive show
At the sound of the first whistle, Finn the dog bolted like a rocket across the park, leaping over a trash barrel and weaving through crowds passing by.
Another whistle. Suddenly, the animal stopped. A small boy was walking by, and trainer Fred Hassen wanted Finn to let the child cross.
Hassen, who works for the dog training school Sit Means Sit, was offering the crowd a live demonstration of what proper training can do.
The Henderson-based franchise is the biggest service provider in the country, he said proudly while Finn waited for another command.