Ocean City Today

Pooch Palooza at Frontier Town this Saturday and Sun.

By Kara Hallissey | Apr 20, 2017

(April 21, 2017) Activities galore are in store for canines and their owners during the third annual Pooch Palooza Dog Festival at Frontier Town in Berlin this weekend.

Presented by Delmarva Unleashed, the event features hours of games, contests and activities for leashed dogs of all sizes and breeds.

“We can’t find another event like it anywhere,” said Sandy Phillips, organizer of Pooch Palooza. “The event is done from the dog’s perspective. It’s a family-fun event where there are a lot of activities that your dog can participate in. It’s the one event where the humans get to hang out while their dogs do things.”

In 2016, more than 700 dogs and about 1,500 humans attended the one-day event. More than 350 dogs and approximately 600 people attended the inaugural festival in 2014.

This year, organizers expect 5,000 to 6,000 owners and their dogs to come out on Saturday and Sunday.

On Saturday, gates open at 9 a.m. with the first finals competition for the Delmarva Dock Dogs, who dive, jump and splash for bumpers off the dock tank, beginning at 9:30 a.m. There will be four heats taking place throughout the day at the dock tank for trained dogs, and one on Sunday.

“The second day will also exhibit speed retrieve and the Big Air Finals,” Phillips said. “While you may have seen it on ESPN, there is nothing like watching it in person. It’s amazing how far those dogs can dive or how high they can jump to grab a toy. It’s an experience in person, not just a show on television.”

At least a dozen vendors will be on hand including pet stores and supplies such as Paws & Claws, Pet Value, Concord Pet, VeRus Pet Food and Bryan & Brittingham.

Small Pups Training will be on site in addition to several veterinary clinics including Precious Paws Animal Hospital, VCA Delmarva, Animal Wellness Center of the Eastern Shore and the Rehab Center at Haven Lake Animal Hospital.

Corporate sponsors, Insight Homes and Gateway Subaru, which will have several vehicles on display, will also be in attendance.

Delmarva Unleashed will hold its annual cover model search at Pooch Palooza. Dogs can show what they are made of as they strut down a runway for a chance to be featured on the front cover of Delmarva Unleashed magazine. Props will be provided, although owners are encouraged to bring their own.

The event will also feature a costume contest with three ribbons given out in each category. Ankle biters are 20 pounds or less, tailwaggers fall in the 21-50-pound group and the watch dogs group are more than 50 pounds. The contest will be judged by an independent sponsor.

Pooch Palooza has a pie-eating contest, canine photo booth, demonstrations, training sessions, arcade-style canine games and the FastFetch Cup finals.

Two previous qualifiers took place in Easton and in Smyrna, Delaware, to secure a position in the finals. All dogs will have a chance to qualify at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

The fastest retriever will be determined at 2 p.m. when the FastFetch Cup final takes place.

“If your dog can fetch, they can participate,” Phillips said. “Many dogs, without any type of formal training can be a part. Some dogs are very fast, others just jog down to retrieve the ball.

“Last year, one even answered the call of nature during his qualifying run,” Phillips continued. “They are all so different and you find yourself rooting for them to make the time. So much fun.”

Once again, Inside Ocean City and Concord Pet have teamed up to drop 500 tennis balls from a helicopter for dogs to retrieve during the tennis ball lottery event.

“It has to be every retriever’s dream to have tennis balls just fall from the sky, so we made it happen,” Phillips said. “After the balls are dropped, dogs are allowed out to retrieve balls, many of which are associated with prizes including new dog beds, bowls, clothing and other canine goods.”

At the prize booth, participants could go home with a gift totaling $60 or at least keep the tennis ball for $5 a chance.

“Often pet parents wonder if their dog would have interest in canine sports,” Phillips said. “Pooch Palooza is a great place to bring them for the opportunity to try new activities. If your dog seems to really have a passion for something, then Delmarva Unleashed can connect you to sport teams across the shore where you can pursue the sport.”

Funds will help support the Humane Society of Charles County, who will be hosting the lure course with all money raised from the event going directly to the nonprofit.

“The sport has taken on a much broader scope in the last several years and continues to gain popularity across the nation,” Phillips said. “Typically, a plastic bag (the lure) is tied to a continuous loop and is pulled across the ground via a system of pullies."

“Most dogs can’t resist the ‘lure’ of the chase and will instinctively run after the bag,” she said. “We have even seen very keen dogs think ahead of where the lure will travel and cut it off before it arrives. People love to see their pups having such a good time. No previous experience is required.”

There will also be an agility course at Pooch Palooza for dogs to explore, which has a series of obstacles to navigate, tunnel through or jump.

“We have also been thinking about funding a rabies clinic depending on the amount available,” Phillips said. “Rabies is endemic on the shore and we would like to help protect dogs, helping to offset some of the associated cost of the vaccines.”

Pooch Palooza will take place Saturday and Sunday, April 22-23, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Frontier Town, off Route 611 (Stephen Decatur Hwy.) Admission cost is $5 per person and $2 per dog.

“Pooch Palooza is done for the dogs and the humans get to go with them,” Phillips said. “In 2018, we already have a national disc dog competition as well as a fly ball event. We also have a weight pulling event pending as well. We are so excited about our continued growth.”

For more information, visit www.poochpalooza.com or www.facebook.com/PoochPalooza.

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