Jul 28, 2014
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Dogs Reign at Largo's Woofstock 2011

The City of Largo presented Woofstock, a dog-oriented event featuring an obstacle course, music, training demonstrations, contests and pet vendors.The event was held at Largo Central Park on Feb. 12.

Dogs Reign at Largo's Woofstock 2011 Dogs Reign at Largo's Woofstock 2011 Dogs Reign at Largo's Woofstock 2011 Dogs Reign at Largo's Woofstock 2011 Dogs Reign at Largo's Woofstock 2011 Dogs Reign at Largo's Woofstock 2011

"We're serious dog people," said Sandy Lazar-Bergstron, a regular Woofstock visitor, who brought her and her husband's five rescue dogs to the event.

"We're people who love their dogs, who would take a bullet for their dog. Nobody here thinks I'm the crazy dog lady," she said.

That loving sentiment could be echoed by many pet owners, who brought their beloved dogs to Largo Central Park.  Woofstock, a free event that began in 2004, is a community focused. It's the about activities for dogs and their families. Participants enjoyed training demonstrations, an obstacle course, music, dog judging contests, food and pet vendors.

Vendors included animal rescue organizations, vets, dog treats, pet clothing, pet adoption agencies, pet photography, pet hygiene products, dog training and more.

American Red Cross volunteers demonstrated pet CPR for visitors. Instructor Kate Stevens leaned over a dog model and took quick puffs into its mouth. She then showed how to find the artery inside the dog's inner thigh to feel for a heartbeat, which she simulated with a pump of a hidden air hose.

"I had no idea there was pet CPR," said Larry Ernst, a resident.

Ernst and his wife Cindy have three cats and recently lost their dog. As frequent visitors to Largo events, he thought Woofstock was a great event for pet lovers like him.

American Red Cross instructor Barbara Buckland said many people don't realize that pet CPR is available. She shared the importance of pet CPR and first aid to the park's attendees. Pet owners can take one of their CPR classes or buy their pet first aid book, which includes an instructional DVD.

Newcomers Sandy and Jerimy Stevens visited Woofstock with Sparkles, a Westie they adopted when Sandy Steven's mother died last year.

"Sparkles is a pirate dog. She has her own Facebook page," Stevens said.

In their first visit to Woofstock, the Ernsts wanted to find pets vendors and dog products.  Ernst talked to John Paul Pet representative about keeping her dog's fur white without drying out its skin.

The representative pointed her to the popular Super Bright Shampoo, a whitening formula. The high end products are produced with pet safety, health and beauty in mind. The representative said their products are tested on humans first.

Not all pets were the furry kind. Bundled in a blanket, Spike, the Bearded Dragon, attended with his owner, Kala Gustin. They are volunteers with Paws for Friendship, Inc., a nonprofit organization.  Pet owner volunteers visit nursing homes, schools, halfway houses and other agencies that could use the healing connection with animals.

"The boys love Spike," said Gustin, who visits halfway houses with Spike.

A couple of new vendors included Cyndi Gieschen, who creates custom photo collages. The photos can be designed with several poses of one dog, a portrait with the dog's owner or several pets in one picture.

"I started doing it for friends, and they told me to start a business," said Gieschen.

Other new pet business owners included Rachel Smith, of Dog Goodies, which creates grain-free dog treats. Their products are made with all natural ingredients, like roasted chickpea, chicken liver, sweet potato, plaintain, broccoli, apple and blueberry. Janet Flanigan said all products are tested on humans first. She is one of the taste testers for new flavors.

"We're working on vegan treats made with peanuts," Flanigan said. "It's really good."

New non-profit organization, Retired K9 Heroes, visited Woofstock to share their agency's mission: to help owners of retired search and rescue dogs. The organization hopes to help owners who may find themselves struggling with additional pet costs after their dogs retire.

"They [the dogs] don't get a retirement. We're trying to help with food and vet costs," said co-owner Becky Beall.

Woofstock provided a great venue for new services and companies to reach out to dog loving residents.

Under bright blue skies and chilly morning temps in the 60's, Woofstock drew hundreds of long time and new visitors. Families enjoyed spending the day outside with their dogs.

"We love it. We come every year," said Karsyn Long, who brought her Beagle, Amos.

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