Sunday, April 1, 2012

A Dog Day Afternoon

From our position on the three-quarter-mile-long Zemurray Trail, we had a beautiful introduction to New Orleans' City Park.

We could see the Museum of Art across Big Lake. Even though we had arrived almost two hours before the event of the day was to start, we had a walk of some distance ahead of us. But this was one of those rare (in recent weeks) sunny days, so the walk was quite pleasant.

Along the trail, we passed large outdoor sculptures, a replica of a Venetian gondola, and a large sculpted white pelican (the Louisiana State Bird). Out on the lake itself were many species of waterfowl, including ducks, geese and swans, and a fountain that shot water about 30-40 feet in the air. Paddle boats were also available for rent.

Across the lake, we could see the event tents.

As we neared the center of activity, we could see that the vital services--portable toilets, a food vendor, and an ATM--were taking up their positions.

We noticed that a unique tree provided shade for vendors and partici-pants--a half dozen sets of wind chimes were hanging from its branches.

A plaque beneath it identified it as the The “Singing Oak.”

"Created by Jim Hart, the wind chimes, some up to 14 feet tall, are tuned to the Pentatonic scale (5 pitches per octave) to create this amazing instrument/art piece."

Near the tree was this booth, and when we saw it, we thought the presence of the furry person in the booth made perfect sense. The day's event was the Louisiana SPCA's 30th Annual Dog Day Afternoon

The festival is a fun opportunity for the community to help raise funds for the over 15,000 homeless and companion animals the LA/SPCA cares for each year. We saw a greyhound rescue pen and wished that we could have adopted many of this breed as well as the other guys with the "vests" that expressed their wishes.

The day provided an opportunity for socializing among the humans and among the canines.

The major fund-raising activity is "The Gatsby Strut."

"The Gatsby Strut is our annual fundraising dog walk-a-thon and one of the oldest dog walks in the state of Louisiana. You can sign up as an invdividual walker or as a team (or "pack")! Once you sign up, you will receive your own personal fundraising page that you can customize with your own message & picture. From there, it is easy to send out emails to friends, family & coworkers to raise money for your favorite canine (or feline!)." (The Gatsby Strut raised over $40,000.)

Walkers get the chance to win a prime spot with their pet as "Chair Dog" for the following year's event by raising the most money. A couple of the walkers enjoyed a ride around the lake.

A number of players on the the New Orleans Saints are active volunteers for the LA/SPCA. Among them is Jeff Charleston, who served as a celebrity emcee for the afternoon events.

One of the events was an appearance by Gail Mirabella & the Dynamo Disc Dogs. Mirabella travels with 14 dogs and seven were included in the program of acrobatic demonstrations and freestyle routines that feature high jumps, jump rope and hoop tricks, vertical jumping, and disc-catching at "amazing speeds and with mind-bending accuracy."

In an interview with the Times-Picayune, Mirabella noted: "Any sport or class one does with their dog increases the relationship tenfold. You as a person learn how to better communicate with your dog and he to you. I recommend that everyone with a dog, whether a young one or an older one, and especially one that's just been adopted or rescued, attend a class if you want to attain that special bond."

It was indeed a performance by the magnificent seven--most of whom were adopted or rescued--marked by energy and enthusiasm.

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