Downeast Dog News
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Dog Gone Good Times Ahead

By Susan Spisak | Sep 01, 2019
Photo by: Barkley & Co.

The Maine Wienerfest and Newfie Fun Days are coming this month and will draw many dog-lovers from all over New England and beyond. Not only are they terrific events that honor the small Dachshund dog and one of the world’s largest breeds, the Newfoundland, but they benefit animal organizations as well. The public is encouraged to attend these family-friendly events even if you don’t have one of these special breeds – you’re guaranteed a great time.

Maine Wienerfest

The Maine Wienerfest is in its 16th year and it’s New England’s only festival that’s all about the short, long wiener dogs with surprising big barks, the Dachshunds. For the third year, it’s being hosted by Camden’s no-kill nonprofit shelter, P.A.W.S. Animal Adoption Center. Shelly Butler, MBA and Executive Director of P.A.W.S., said the event is not only hilarious but that it’s grown by leaps and bounds – and so have the proceeds – last year P.A.W.S. netted about $6k.

It started as a small picnic in Diane Wood’s backyard – just a gathering for families who love the smart and vigilant Hound Group breed affectionately referred to as Doxies. Even after Diane moved to FL, the fest continued – although she returned in 2017 for the event.

Shelly said these days 700 to 800 humans attend with their dogs. “It’s just craziness,” she chuckled – meaning in a unique and wholesome way - about the Wienerfest that’s held at Steamboat Landing Park in Belfast. Attendees come from all over the country and 40 states have been represented in the past, as well as several countries including Canada and Australia, “Some plan their vacation around this festival.”

There are food and retail vendors, a Doxie Derby including “wannabee” races, the Canine Costume Contest (some are dressed in tandem with their owners), and the Grand Parade of Dachshunds. Shelly said the owners are very proud to line up their dogs known for their big personalities but added, “It takes them a while to get them going.”

“We’ve placed about 15 wiener dogs in the last year, so we’re looking to see P.A.W.S. alumni at the event.” She explained that in addition to their intake sources, such as strays from the many local towns they contract with as well as owner relinquishments, they receive about 300 dogs annually from a rescue partner, SweetPups Rescue and Sanctuary in TX, including the smooth, wirehaired and longhaired Dachshunds. “We let [our contact] know that wiener dogs are popular and that we’ll take them. They’re assured to get a home.”

Join the Doxie celebration on Sunday, September 8 at Steamboat Landing on the Belfast Waterfront. The Maine Wienerfest hours are 11:00 am - 3:00 pm, rain or shine, and admission is $3, kids 12 and under and dogs are free. “It’s a funny, funny festival. Everybody there has a good time.” For further info, visit www.mainewienerfest.com/.

Newfie Fun Days

“You definitely get your Newfie Fix that weekend,” said Holly Pearson of the 24th Annual Newfie Fun Days scheduled for September 14th and 15th at the Piscataqua Boat Basin and Park in Eliot. She laughed and added that you’ll also get lots of their slobber, hair, and kisses. Holly knows what she’s talking about – as one of the original four founders of the event along with Mary Lou Graper (unfortunately the other two have passed away), she’s been to all of them – you’ll usually find her at the entrance meeting and greeting. She said her beloved Newfie Roman used to be by her side, but she lost him two years back.

Initially, Newfie Fun Days was a small get together for those who love this Working Group breed – they had picnic fare and would swap stories of their devoted and sweet dogs with the soulful expressions. Today it’s a two-day event held rain or shine in September, and attendance – depending on the weather – can reach into the 300’s with folks coming from many other states and Canada. Holly said most bring at least one Newfie but added, “Some people bring two or three if you can believe it. We have a lot of Newfies there.” Breed fur ranges from gray, brown, black, and black-and-white, making for a colorful sea of canines among the humans.

Events scheduled include AKC CGC, rally and nose work demos, canine massage and reiki, a “carting” clinic, and the Blessing of the Newfies and Grand March with bagpiper Rob Haskell. Holly’s “hands down” favorite is a Saturday event that many attendees come for – the water rescue demo at the beach. “Working in water is the hallmark of the breed,” she relayed. With their intelligence, easy trainability, webbed feet and ability to use their tails as a rudder, the big, strong dogs (their average weight is 120 to 150 pounds depending on gender), excel at water work trials and water rescue.

This water rescue demo – their “signature” event - is intended to highlight not only what’s involved in water rescue and trials, but to demonstrate the participating Newfie’s abilities, and everyone stands along the beach by the Piscataqua River to watch. “It’s quite a sight to see all the Newfoundland’s lined up on the beach.”

The Newfie Days are free of charge, but there will be donation jars to accept monetary gifts. They welcome them to aid their mission of benefiting the Newfoundland Club of New England Rescue, Atlantic Rescue, The Betty Trott Fund, as well as the Newfoundland Club of America Health Challenge which covers a variety of breed issues including cardiac and bone joint health.

Join the Newfie crowd for two days of events, food, and good times on September 14th and 15th from 10 am to 4 pm at the Piscataqua Boat Basin and Park, 90 Hammond Lane, Route 103 in Eliot. Holly added to please mark your calendar for next year’s event – it’s their Silver Anniversary. They’ll be back for the 25th Annual Newfie Fun Days on September 19 and 20, 2020. For more info visit, newfiefundays.com.