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Local dogs have their day at Barks and Belts

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By Sandy Barnes

Leading the pack at the Barks and Belts 5K on Sunday was Justin Mock of Conifer and his dogs Chuck and Elly. The Mock team finished first with a time of 21 minutes, 3 seconds.

With tails wagging and spirits high in the bright morning sun, the third annual event for canines, their owners and friends was a well-attended success, with more than 220 participants. From Chihuahuas to border collies, German shepherds and a great Dane, an astounding variety of breeds were in the event, sporting festive red scarves around their necks.

“You’re running for a great cause!” announcer Kenny Fuller said as the parade of dogs and humans began making their way on the course, with guidance from volunteers.

Barks and Belts is a fund-raiser for the Evergreen Animal Protective League and Drive Smart.

Susan and Emily Holmes brought their neighbor’s dog Scooter, an American Eskimo breed they hoped would be at the head of the pack. Wearing a heavy white fur coat designed for arctic temperatures, Scooter got a bit overheated during the event, however.

“We tired him out a little bit,” Susan Holmes said after the race.

A 9-week-old border Aussie took things easy while being carried by owner Mark Land at the start of the race. However, the puppy did run about half the event, Land said while standing with his family afterward.

Canines Jack and Daisy weren’t in too much of a hurry as they headed into a creek along Bergen Parkway for a cool drink of water soon after they began the course.

“I think it’s hilarious to watch the dogs,” said Jackie Mohr, executive director of Drive Smart.

Participant Sara Fischer said she was on the Pixie team while walking with her mother’s dog with that name.

“I came from Denver to support the cause,” Fischer said.

As the runners and walkers approached the finish line, Evergreen firefighters sprayed them down with a hose.

Todd and Hilary Hesket’s Golden retriever, Frisco, was lying in a kiddie pool filled with water while cooling down after the race.

“He loved the pools along the way,” said Todd Hesket, whose children Callum and Collette accompanied their parents in the event.

Among familiar faces on Sunday morning were Evergreen resident Michele Parker, a competitive runner and frequent participant in charity events, and her daughters, Lily and Megan, who took part in the race with their border mix, Annie.

Kristine Gewin and her great Dane, Addie, who was wearing her traditional sporty skirt, participated in Barks and Belts for the third time. Addie is getting on in years, and isn’t as fast as she used to be, said Gewin. But the duo still had a good race.

Mohr said she is gratified that one event supports two organizations benefiting the community. EAPL provides shelter for homeless animals, and Drive Smart promotes safe driving for teenagers.

Contact Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com.