Four-legged visitors welcome at Huntley's Dog-tober Fest

  • A variety of pet-related organizations and groups will be at Saturday's Dog-tober Fest in Huntley.

    A variety of pet-related organizations and groups will be at Saturday's Dog-tober Fest in Huntley. Courtesy Kim Ashbaugh

Updated 1/31/2011 6:38 PM

Want to have a doggone good time this weekend? Then pack up the kids, your dog and your camera, and head over to Huntley's Deicke Park for Dog-tober Fest 2010, an afternoon of family fun that benefits animal rescue charities throughout northern Illinois.

Now in its second year, this pet-friendly fair runs from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 2 with dozens of fun activities, informational displays, booths and refreshments located throughout the park.


Admission is free and money raised by the organizers goes to support the dozen or more participating rescue groups and shelters.

Dog lovers can start the day with the "Going To The Dogs" Fun Run And Walk, a fundraiser for the Animal House Shelter of Huntley. Registration starts at 10 a.m. and the one-mile run begins at 11 a.m. near Stingray Bay in Deicke Park. Fees are $20 for adults, $15 for ages 5-12, and free for children age 4 and younger. Everyone gets a T-shirt and dogs are welcome, too, if they are leashed and stay with their owners.

Dog-tober festivities begin at noon with a free Pet Parade that is open to all ages and breeds.

"Bring your dog, dress up your dog, dress like your dog, whatever you'd like to do," says Dog-tober Fest co-organizer Kim Ashbaugh. "We'll be giving prizes away for the three best-dressed."

Also very popular is the Pet Blessing at 1 p.m., conducted by the Rev. Michelle McNamara of Hampshire. Families can bring any animal a dog, cat, rabbit, bird, or other pet to this nondenominational blessing ceremony.

Other attractions include a demo by the McHenry County Sheriff's K-9 unit, pet training and agility demonstrations, a gift basket raffle, dozens of booths, and doggy contests for owners and their pets.

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The Peanut Butter Eating contest tests how fast a dog can gobble peanut butter and lick a spoon clean. In "Musical Sits," dogs walk in a circle until the music stops and they're told to sit. Those who don't are "out," until only one winner remains.

Dog-tober Fest is the "pet project" of two local women who love dogs and want to encourage others to help homeless pets.

"We don't make a dime from this, we do it for the animals," says Ashbaugh, who spent months working with a friend, Pat Shinka of Hampshire, to organize the event.

"Pat has been involved with Great Dane rescue a group called 'Dane 911' and I'm involved with a pit bull rescue called the 'Bombshell Bullies,'" she explains. "We believe in pet adoption, and we're really passionate about it."

The women recruited more than a dozen area rescue groups and shelters to bring out their dogs, meet the public, and spread the word about animal rescue, fostering programs and adoption.


"People don't know where to go to find out about 'rescues,'" said Shinka, who formerly ran a day care center for dogs. "We encouraged them to learn what the different breeds are like, and see what's best for them.'

Many shelters and rescue organizations will bring some of their adoptable pets to meet visitors and enjoy the park.

"We'll have pit bulls, Great Danes, and golden retrievers coming out," Ashbaugh said. "We have dachshunds and shorthairs, Rottweilers, and all sorts of dogs. Several local shelters will come out with mixed breeds."

Families can meet the rescued dogs and learn about adoption, but they can't take them home at least not yet, says Shinka.

"The idea is to show people what is available, and teach them about pet adoption. This is a way to get the process started."

At her Huntley home, Ashbaugh and her husband are fostering two rescued pit bulls. She encourages people who to avoid breeders and contact rescue groups when they want a pet.

"When you go to backyard breeders, you don't always know what you're getting," she says. "Use that opportunity instead to rescue an animal and save a life."

• Dog-tober Fest 2010 runs from noon 4 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 2 at Deicke Park, located off Route 47 in Huntley. For details, call (847) 699-3383.

Dog-tober Fest 2010

Dog-tober Fest 2010 is set for noon to 4 p.m. Saturday on the west side of Deicke Park, off Route 47, Huntley. Admission is free. For details, call (630) 699-3383 or e-mail

Schedule of events

Noon Dog-tober Fest pet parade

Noon Agility run for the Rabies Challenge Fund

1 p.m. Pet blessing with the Rev. Michelle McNamara

1 p.m. Intermediate agilityclass/demo

1 p.m. Musical sits contest

2 p.m. Police K-9 demo

2 p.m. Contests for longest and shortest tail, tongue and Dog

2:30 p.m. Pet blessing with the Rev. Michelle McNamara

3 p.m. Peanut butter eating contest

3 p.m. Beginners' agility class/demo

3 p.m. Raffle prizes announced

3:45 p.m. Rescue/Shelter winner announced

Participating nonprofit shelters and rescue organizations

• Airedale Rescue

• Animal House Shelter

• Animal Outreach Society

• As Good As Gold/Golden Retriever Rescue of Northern Illinois

• Bassett Buddies Rescue, Inc.

• Bombshell Bullies

• Brew, Inc. Midwest Region/beagle rescue

• Collie Rescue of Greater Illinois, Inc.

• Great Dane Rescue Midwest

• Hip Dysplasia Funding Foundation

• JCCARE/Japanese Chin Care and Rescue Effort

• Second Chance Pet Adoption

• THORR/True Hearts of Rottweiler Rescue