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Cherry Street goes to the dogs

Published 11:12 am, Saturday, June 14, 2014

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  • Lily Dunn, 1, of New Canaan, meets Bronco at the the fifth annual Dog Days festival in downtown New Canaan Sunday, June 8. Jarret Liotta / For the New Canaan News Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed / New Canaan News Contributed
    Lily Dunn, 1, of New Canaan, meets Bronco at the the fifth annual Dog Days festival in downtown New Canaan Sunday, June 8. Jarret Liotta / For the New Canaan News Photo: Contributed Photo, Contributed

 

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Hundreds of canines of every breed, accompanied by their owners, congregated on Cherry Street Sunday for New Canaan's fifth annual Dog Days festival.

The area around 107 Cherry St., the site of Village Critter Outfitter, was sealed off to allow space for more than 40 vendor booths and nearly 2,000 visitors to roam free.

"It's one of our favorite events, actually," said Cariann Tyszka, of Easton, who brought two dogs from Bully Breed Rescue to share in the experience, socialize and see if they could find someone interested in adopting them. "It's a lot of fun."

"And it's all for a good cause," Drew Tyszka, her husband, said.

In addition to the day being an opportunity to show off man's best friends, the event gathered contributions of money and supplies for PAWS, the Pet Animal Welfare Society based in Norwalk, and STARelief, a Stamford-based nonprofit that provides aid to pet owners having financial troubles.

"This is great because people love to give back," Shirleen Dubuque, owner of Village Critter Outfitter and co-founder of Dog Days, said.

In 2013, she said, around $1,200 was raised. While she said the organizers hoped to do even better this year, many people had also contributed food and products that will go to STARelief to help area residents who are struggling to care for their pets.

"We're always in need of pet food, so Village Critter thought there would be a great opportunity to help us out and help fill our pantry," said Heather Scutti, STARelief executive director. "Our mission is to keep pets out of shelters and in their homes," she said, having provided much-needed supplies to more than 100 residents since the beginning of the year.

Scutti said participating in Dog Days was particularly important, as it afforded the nonprofit the opportunity to obtain the necessary exposure.

"It's been great," she said. "The best thing about it today is a lot of people didn't know about us."

Yet along with offering an opportunity to help others, Dog Days gave everyone and their animals a fun day in the sun.

"We love it," said Tom Woodard, of New Canaan, who brought his old English sheepdog Weezy to the festival. "It's great to see people who are happy with their dogs. Dog people are happy people. Dogs make you happy."

"And they don't ask for anything in return," said his wife, Debbie Woodard. "You come home, they're happy. They come up. They snuggle with you. They ask for food, a bowl of water and a walk, and they just give so much back."

"I love it," Wendy Wien, of South Salem, N.Y., said of the festival. "It brings out all the animals and all the people."

"It's a good social event for dogs," said Sarah Salvino, of Bethel, who came with her pooch, Lester Hendrick McCarthy.

"We honestly just love the fact that Lilly gets to see all these other dogs," said Alessia Miller, of New Canaan, whose Yorkie was pleased with the outing.

"New Canaan is a very dog-friendly town," said Elizabeth McCarthy, owner of Aetheria Relaxation Spa, and co-founder of Dog Days. "This is just a celebration of our four-legged friends, thrown just for them."

Free treats were flowing, along with information booths, grooming demonstrations and several fun contests, including best-kissing dogs and those who looked the most like their masters.

"I love seeing all the dogs," Mona Thorpe, of Ridgefield, said.

"We've created a great culture in New Canaan of people who love their animals," Dubuque said.

"We thought it would be just a great thing to do for New Canaan, and raise some money for some really well-deserving nonprofits."

Jarret Liotta is a freelance writer.