Every man and his dog were out for walkies at Reddall Reserve on Sunday, pounding the pavement as part of the RSPCA’s Million Paws Walk.
Up to 2500 people and more than 800 canines descended upon the Lake Illawarra park for the local leg of the national event, raising money as part of the animal protection society’s biggest fundraising event.
Poodles and Pomeranians, huskies and hounds, Dalmations and Dobermans, boxers and beagles and border collies and more all took their owners for a drag along the lake shore. Pet care and treat stalls, jumping castles, food and more dotted the area, as humans tried to avoid getting tangled up in leashes or stepping in a fresh pile of doggie doo-doo as their furry friends made new friends of their own.
“It has been a wonderful success,” said event organiser Ann Dewson.
“The dogs are enjoying every minute of it. We never seem to have any fights, which must mean all the dogs are very happy.”
Pet owners signed up for either the 1.5-kilometre or three-kilometre walk around the lake, and many dogs chose to take a quick dip in the water after finishing up.
A fancy dress contest saw bulldogs dressed in angel wings, pugs in cartoon outfits and kelpies in tutus. However, some dogs just stood out on their own, including Tracy Onley’s massive great Dane-cross-mastiff, Sapper.
“We’ve been coming to this event for four years, since Sapper was only eight months old,” Ms Onley said. Sapper was arguably the biggest dog present on Sunday, dwarfing the others and standing taller than waist-high to most of the interested people who came in for a pat.
“It’s good to see all the other dogs. Sapper is a gentle giant, but it is hard to interact a big dog with smaller dogs on the street,” Ms Onley laughed.
Organisers were still counting contributions, but expected up to $35,000 to be raised from the Illawarra leg alone.