ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Back then, you were invited to “Run A-Stray, Help AHA.”
And back then, in 1982, 108 people and about a dozen dogs ran the 5-mile race, which was held in the Wyoming/Alameda area in the foothills. The canine division winner was a pooch named Phoebe.
Today it’s the Doggie Dash & Dawdle, the biggest dog and human outdoor party in the state, the annual Animal Humane New Mexico fundraiser. In 1982, it was sponsored by Gil’s Runners Shoe World. Today, there are dozens of sponsors. And last year, DD&D attracted 3,000 people and 2,000 dogs.
This year, Animal Humane expects the event to be the biggest ever.
“It’s just a really fun, friendly morning,” says Peggy Weigle, Animal Humane’s executive director.
“You have to experience Doggie Dash and Dawdle to get an idea of how much fun it is.”
The event, now at Balloon Fiesta Park, will have new features this year, such as a pace car for both races — Garcia Subaru is the presenting sponsor, so will supply the Subaru. Riding in the pace car will be Animal Humane’s “celebrity,” now named Fiona, a cattle dog mix that had been held over an open fireplace when she was 6 weeks old. Baby Cakes, as she was known at the time, was saved and healed at Animal Humane’s veterinary clinic.
Also new this year is the “Circle of Care,” a series of graphics along the course representing about 20 Animal Humane programs.
“As you dawdle, we’re going to be informing you about all the great stuff Animal Humane does in the community,” Weigle says.
The only thing that’s smaller now is the race course, reduced from five miles to five kilometers. The 5K can be dashed by humans only or by humans and their dogs. The 2-mile Dawdle is for both. For racers who want to bring the dog but not race with him, pet sitters will be available.
Especially for dogs is the Dash Bash, a carnival of agility courses, bobbing for hot dogs, an off-leash dog park and paw print painting. Especially for humans is the Pet Plaza of vendors of products and services, rescue groups and experts who can answer your questions. Especially for people who don’t have a dog, there will be Animal Humane adoptables present. You can rent for the morning or adopt for life.
For dogs, first aid will be available; for all, lots of water.
And for cats, 40 percent of proceeds will go toward their care at Animal Humane.
Way back when …
Back then, in 1965, Animal Humane Association was formed, to be renamed Animal Humane Association of New Mexico in 1968. The property at 615 Virginia SE was bought a year after that, and is the nonprofit shelter’s main campus now. The clinic building and thrift shop were added in 1977; the 1982 Run A-Stray was the first major fundraiser.
The 1990s saw a huge expansion of programs and services — a mobile adoption program, a satellite adoption center, a spay and neuter program, microchips with every adoption. Among the additions to Animal Humane in the last decade: Doggie Charm School, a behavior help hotline, low-income spay and neuter services, remodeling of offices, the thrift store and the cattery, adoption centers in the Northeast Heights and Corrales. The name was changed to Animal Humane New Mexico in 2008.
So Sunday’s event is about growth too, in small ways (more photographers, a pet psychic) and large: Some 4,000 pets have been adopted from Animal Humane this year, and not a single adoptable pet has been euthanized.
“We’ve done a lot more because we’re trying to increase proceeds to Animal Humane,” Weigle says, which in turn expands and creates programs. “It just makes the day more fun for the participants as well.
“We’re just trying to make the Doggie Dash better and better.”