ROCK ISLAND -- It was a lot more than a walk in the park Sunday for many Quad-Cities dogs and their owners at the third annual Bark in the Park at Schwiebert Riverfront Park.
The pets got to trot around on leashes in a parade, strut their stuff in a talent contest, catch Frisbees and dress to the canine nines in a fashion show. A 4-year-old Scottish terrier named Pepper, owned by Jeremiah Cowgill of Davenport, won first place for his costume -- green hospital scrubs that transformed him into Dr. Pepper.
Mr. Cowgill won $100 worth of obedience training from the new Quad Cities Canine Assistance Network (QC CAN), and during the talent portion of the program, Pepper showed off his trick of rolling over. Other dogs were dolled up as a witch, a bat, a ballerina, and a lion, while a boom box blared dog-themed tunes such as "Who Let the Dogs Out," "Walkin' the Dog" and "Dog and Butterfly."
Gwen Naylor of Moline showed off Carlito, a 2-year-old long-haired Chihuahua in a Bears jersey that she bought on eBay. "He's just a Bears fan," said Ms. Naylor, who is looking into having Carlito become a therapy dog. "I just think he would be great to cuddle. He likes being around people," she said.
More than 10 vendors showed off their products and services, including area animal shelters, QC CAN, K9 Kindness Rescue, Lundgren Chiropractic and Happy Joe's handing out free pizza and Happy the Dog playing with kids.
"It's good for people to come out and aren't aware of the facilities in services in our area to learn what there is," said Debbi Weston, community recreation assistant manager for the city, who brought her yellow Lab, Chilli.
"It's a neat event," said Arthur Hoffman of Rock Island, a chiropractic student interning at Lundgren who manned that table and played with his dogs Sterling (a Welsh corgi), and Nershi (a Jack Russell terrier). He's also interested in training to offer chiropractic treatments to dogs and attends animal chiropractic club meetings at Palmer College in Davenport.
"You can give them a cervical adjustment, like a regular person can have," Mr. Hoffman said of dogs. "You use a gentle diagnostic hand to feel where the issues are. You learn about the anatomy of animals. Their nervous systems are comparable to ours."
Mary Kiolbasa, an Augustana College sophomore and president of the recently formed Viking Pups, talked to visitors about the services of QC CAN, which just organized this summer with help of the Augie students to offer training for therapy and service dogs. The training (including obedience classes) is done at All Fur Fun Dog Daycare in Carbon Cliff. Ms. Kiolbasa showed off the golden retriever siblings Tucker and Oden, who are in training.
Therapy dogs work in therapeutic settings, such as hospitals, nursing homes and schools, while service dogs work with just one person (who typically has some kind of disability) and live with them, she said. A service dog will often aid in mobility issues, retrieve objects or call for help for an owner with a medical condition like epilepsy.
"We're here to educate the public," she said.
Kris Greene of Moline was with her 4-year-old beagle, Brady, who is in training to be a therapy dog. "He's really well-behaved," she said. "I like the idea of a therapy dog. They're nice in hospitals, to be with people in nursing homes." Such dogs also work well with young kids and can help give them someone to practice reading with, Ms. Greene said.
"We're really delighted with him. He's enriched our lives," she said.
K9 Kindness Rescue was formed in 2004 and places about 100 abandoned dogs a year in foster and adoptive homes, said president and founder Debbie Fraker. There is a great need for people to take dogs on a temporary or permanent basis. K9 takes them in as an alternative to shelters when people move, get married, have a baby, or need to give their pet away for any other reason.
For more information, visit www.k9kindnessrescue.org. To learn more about QC CAN, visit www.facebook.com/QuadCitiesCanineAssistanceNetwork.