17 July 2008

Pampered Pooches Aid Troops

July 13 was the first K-9 Support Dog Wash at the Clarksville Dogtopia, but the fourth annual event for the company. Dogtopia employees were on hand to give the dogs baths and trim their nails for a monetary donation, and all the money raised went to benefit a group of dogs often forgotten -- working military dogs in Iraq.

Sue Dietrich, who owns the facility with her husband Ron, said she plans to use the money raised to buy things for both the dogs and their handlers. "One of our employees just came back from Iraq, so I plan to talk to him about what sort of things they need over there," she said. "But we've been given a list of guidelines of what to buy from Dogtopia, and we get to buy it ourselves. We're hoping to send some doggles (goggles to keep the blowing sand and sun out of the dog's eyes), booties for their feet to protect them from the sand, dog toys and some things for their handlers like chapstick."

In all, 51 dogs were bathed in four hours and more than $1,000 was raised for the working dogs in Iraq. "It exceeded our expectations. We ran over to finish all the dogs we had in line. We were still going until after 4 (p.m.)," Dietrich said, adding that several of the people were new to Dogtopia. "The majority were new people. It sounded like a number of them came a good distance. They weren't all local."

Dietrich was quick to point out that the added supplies they will send does not mean the Army is ignoring its working dogs. "This is in addition to what the Army provides," she said. "We think any extra little bit helps."

The annual dog wash fundraiser was created by Dogtopia founder Amy Nichols, who was trying to think of a charitable way to give back to animals, Dietrich said. In the last four years, the nonprofit arm of the company -- K-9 Support -- has raised more than $25,000 and sent more than 5,000 pounds of supplies to Iraq. In addition to the doggles and booties, Dietrich hopes to be able to send other items include cooling vests and pads for the dogs, as well as heat-resistant clothing.

Dietrich had eight people washing dogs for the fundraiser. Seven were Dogtopia employees, and one was a loyal customer. "Our No. 1 customer," she joked.

Sandra Pressman, of Clarksville, came out on a sunny Sunday to spend four hours up to her elbows in dog fur and suds. "I just think it's terrific that we can do something to help the dogs who are on the front lines, also risking their lives."

[Source: The View Newspaper]