Lions Club Park was anything but tame Saturday when more than 200 dogs and their owners took it over during the fourth annual Barktoberfest.
Dogs and their owners were able to woof it up with free reign of the park and the pool.
Activities scheduled throughout the day included dog demonstrations, a bark walk, open dog swim and off-leash play areas for both large- and small-breed dogs.
The annual “pooch pageant” featured new awards, including a “pooch smooch” along with best trick, best costume and the owner-dog look-alike contest.
“This event has grown every year since 2010 when it began and the community
absolutely loves it,” said Amy McGough, recreation supervisor. “Since you can’t take your dogs everywhere with you, this is a great opportunity for people and their dogs to be out together and for them to connect with others in the dog community.”
Natalie Pittmann of Killeen has attended the event for the past three years with her 2-year-old bulldog, Tank, who came dressed as Superman.
“Tank gets a chance to socialize with other dogs and he really enjoys himself,” she said.
“Socializing your dog is the best way to keep him acting like a good citizen when you take them out in public and expose them to other animals and to people.”
Canine vendors, veterinarians and local shelters, like the Texas Humane Heroes — formerly the CenTex Humane Society Second Chance Animal Adoption Center — were on hand with pet adoption information and to promote pet wellness.
“This event is important to us because it gives our cause exposure to the transient military community here and lets people know that we are the only no-kill pet adoption center serving the greater Killeen and Fort Hood areas,” said George Grammas, a volunteer on the Texas Humane Heroes board of directors. “If you adopt a pet, you are a hero. Since January, we had more than 2,000 dogs get adopted and 80 percent of them came from kill shelters.”
Despite the many activities offered during the event, the pool area by far garnered the most attention. Dogs were able to swim with their humans and dog-paddle without a care in the world.
“I’m a dog lover and I think it’s cute to watch the dogs swim and interact with their owners,” said Julianna Baxter, a lifeguard with the city of Killeen. “It’s definitely a different experience but it’s a fun way to end the season.”