ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Princess Fiona appeared positively regal, festooned with pink bows as she rode in the race pace car leading the 5K Doggie Dash & Dawdle on Sunday at Balloon Fiesta Park.
Up to 4,000 dogs and owners of all shapes and sizes attended Animal Humane’s 29th annual Doggie Dash & Dawdle, the association’s biggest annual fundraiser supporting programs for homeless dogs and cats.
Immediately following her ceremonial ride of honor, Fiona, an Australian cattle dog mix with white coat and a brown half mask, showed almost no signs of near-fatal burns from when she was held over a burning fireplace at 6 weeks old. Her back paws were disfigured in the fire.
“Other than a little discomfort in her back paws, which were pretty severely burned, she can walk fine and her temperament is pretty good,” said Ramona Gallegos, who along with her husband, Isaac Gallegos, adopted Fiona, after she underwent several surgeries and months of recovery.
Besides the Doggie Dash, the event featured live music, a 2 mile walk, a Pet Plaza, best dressed and best trick contests, and a doggie carnival of hot dog bobbing, costumes and agility courses.
The Gallegoses said that at their Adelino home just south of Tomé, the 1 1/2-year-old Fiona lives a full life, playing with a pair of other Australian cattle dogs and the couple’s two children.
Ramona said Fiona wasn’t named after the princess in the “Shrek” movies, but after a character in “Burn Notice,” an American cable television show.
“One of the main characters is a really spicy, red-headed Irish gal named Fiona, who is a real feisty little fighter, and that’s what Fiona is,” Ramona Gallegos said of her dog.
The Gallegoses adopted Fiona after hearing about her plight on television news. Ramona said the experience showed her that Animal Humane is much more than a rescue and adoption center.
“They have a complete ‘circle of care,’ ” which includes veterinary care, emergency shelter, and behavioral training for abused or injured animals, she said.
Peggy Weigle, executive director of Animal Humane New Mexico, said Fiona “really represents what Animal Humane is all about.”
“Yes, we do adoptions, but we also do so much more with 20 programs that serve about 22,000 dogs and cats annually,” she said.
This year’s attendance of between 3,500 to 4,000 exceeded last year’s 3,000, with preliminary figures showing that the event surpassed its goal of raising $156,000, representing about 3 to 4 percent of the association’s annual operating budget, Weigle said.
Avtar Hari Khalsa and wife Ravi Khalsa of Española put their two Labradoodles, Gabe and Terri, through an agility course designed to give them confidence.
“They both did really great on everything,” Avtar Khalsa said.
It was very hard at first for them to get over their fears, but then after they accomplished it, I could see that they felt very good about themselves,” Ravi Khalsa said.
Dan Mayfield, of Albuquerque, said he has attended the event for several years with rented dogs available for the Dash & Dawdle race, but this year he brought his own dog, an impressive looking mixed breed pound puppy named Fozzie Bear, like one of the Muppets.
As Fozzie Bear tugged excitedly on her leash, Mayfield said, “I think she’s really overstimulated today with all of the great looking dogs here.”
— This article appeared on page A1 of the Albuquerque Journal