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updated: 8/4/2013 12:09 AM

Wheaton's Cantigny Park goes to the dogs

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  • Dawn Kelsey and her dog look at items for sale at the Pampered Pooch Couture booth during the annual Dog Days celebration Saturday at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

       Dawn Kelsey and her dog look at items for sale at the Pampered Pooch Couture booth during the annual Dog Days celebration Saturday at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Cody McCarty of Wheaton splashes in a pool for dogs during the Cantigny Park annual Dog Days celebration Saturday.

       Cody McCarty of Wheaton splashes in a pool for dogs during the Cantigny Park annual Dog Days celebration Saturday.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Reese Lichner, 3, of Aurora gives an English Bulldog a kiss at the "smooch a pooch" booth sponsored by a Chicago-based English bulldog rescue group during the annual Dog Day's celebration Saturday at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.

       Reese Lichner, 3, of Aurora gives an English Bulldog a kiss at the "smooch a pooch" booth sponsored by a Chicago-based English bulldog rescue group during the annual Dog Day's celebration Saturday at Cantigny Park in Wheaton.
    Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Video: wtdogdays

 
 

Winston the English bulldog had quite the 6th birthday on Saturday, what with getting to splash in mini pools, enjoying free treats and meeting hundreds of other pooches in Wheaton.

Well, all the hoopla at the fifth annual Dog Days at Cantigny Park wasn't really for Winston, but he was none the wiser.

"He thinks this is his birthday party," said his owner Debbie Carroll of Brookfield.

All sorts of dogs -- big and small -- reveled in the daylong event that included a peanut butter licking contest, a game of musical hoops and even a photo booth.

The event was free with a $5 parking fee.

Zoe, an 8-year-old schnoodle, especially liked a show by the highflying dogs from Windy City K9 Disc Club, said her owner, Becky Cross of Naperville.

In fact, Zoe was so revved up that her tiny body shook with excitement.

"There are so many smells here for a dog. She's been trying all the different water dishes," Cross said.

About 4,500 humans and 1,000 canines attended the event last year, said Brian Gray, visitors services and special activities coordinator for Cantigny, who added he expected this year's sunny 70s weather to boost attendance even more at the normally dog-free park.

The friendly atmosphere had both humans and canines strike up random conversation, or sniffing.

Kozi, a 3-year-old leonberger, was a big hit with the kids, who petted her long, fluffy coat and even rubbed their faces in it.

"She likes to go and run and get in the swimming pools," said Kozi's owner, Aimee Busse of Burr Ridge. "That's her favorite thing to do."

There were more than 50 vendor booths, including animal therapy groups and several dog rescue organizations.

The number of abandoned dogs skyrocketed during the economic recession, said Greg Shives, director of Chicago-based adoptaBull, an English bulldog rescue group.

Bulldogs can be especially expensive because of their breathing and leg problems, he said.

Alma and Andrew Legac of Orland Park lounged in the shade, watching all the activity.

The couple's daughter brought her two dogs, and their niece worked at one of the booths, they said.

"It's a beautiful park," Alma Legac said.

"I've never seen so many dogs!" her husband added.

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