Thousands of people – many with their dogs – came to Pet Rock in Deering Oaks on Sunday to celebrate their companions and raise money for the Pet Cancer Foundation.
The park was filled with dogs of all sizes, from large, fluffy English Shepherds, hounds and Labradors to small Dachshunds and many mixed breeds.
Organized by Radio Station Rewind 100.9 and the founders of Portland Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Care, the event was attended by a number of pet businesses, trainers and other canine organizations.
It was a particularly big hit at a “Smooch a Pooch” booth in a vet hospital tent.
Chamberlain, a seven-month-old Golden Retriever, wasn’t shy about offering adoring licks as he walked past hundreds of people.
“He’s my dog, but he spends a lot of time at Back Cove Animal Hospital, where I work,” Richele Chatto said. Chamberlain was in the cabin “to draw people to our tent to learn about the hospital.”
This worked. Chamberlain was a magnet.
Phil Zachary, market president of the Portland Radio Group, said visitors were about 4,000, not counting the dogs.
“If you look at these people, they just love showing off their friends,” Zachary said. “This is our 11th year. We are raising funds for Animal Cancer Research. We have 70 sellers, many rescue organizations.”
People can learn about pet nutrition, dog training, socializing their dogs and enjoy a great meet and greet with lots of dogs.
“It’s a fun day for pet owners and their furry friends. It’s a great thing to do,” Zachary said. “You can come out here and save an animal.”
Andria Botting from New Hampshire came with her 3-year-old daughter, Maggie, who she wanted to adopt.
“This is our first time here,” Botting said. “We came to contact shelters to adopt dogs. We love dogs.”
Will Muzzey of Standish said Sunday was his fourth Pet Rock and was a good place to learn about pet food and nutrition. Standing next to the four adopted puppies, he smiled and watched.
“I love seeing the puppies,” Muzzey said, adding that she adopted Kona, a dog named Pet Rock, three years ago. “My dog is great,” she said. “He always wants to run and play. I love dogs. They show love.”
Vanessa Gauger of New Gloucester shrugged and laughed when asked about her dog, Ryman, a medium-sized, brown-and-white mix.
“He’s a mysterious eater among others, maybe part butterfly and part dog,” he said.
She described Ryman, 3, as a “really good boy.”
“He makes me laugh every day. My father says that he wakes up happy because he is a dog.”
Barbara Cohen, executive director of the Animal Cancer Foundation, said it is very common for dogs to get cancer, especially among older dogs. According to him, about 50 percent of dogs over the age of 10 get cancer.
Cancer in dogs is being diagnosed more often because medical tools have improved and veterinarians are detecting it more often. Plus, there are more pets in homes that are treated like members of the family, and they often receive better medical care than in the past.
One way to prevent cancer in dogs, like humans, is to keep them from being overweight, Cohen said.
“Obesity is a high risk factor for cancer in dogs and humans,” he said. “Exercise is great for you and your pet.”
Another reason for the higher incidence of cancer in dogs may be pesticides, which have been linked to cancer, Cohen said. He recommends against letting your pets roam on lawns that have been treated with chemicals.
“This has potential health implications,” Cohen said. “We need to be more aware of these things flowing into our waterways.”
Cohen also said it’s a good idea to talk to your vet about what foods your dog needs. Different breeds have different nutritional needs, he said.
“Just as we personalize medicine for people, think of your pet as an individual.”
One person was seriously injured in the collision of Harrison’s motorcycle