Animals and their owners invited to Tails on the Trail event
By Nick Longworth
The sixth annual Tails on the Trail event, expo and walkathon will grace Heartland Park again Saturday, June 14.
Hoping to encourage people and pets alike to help make the Headwaters Animal Shelter’s fundraiser a success, registration for the two-mile walk begins at 9 a.m. with the walk starting at 10 a.m. and going until 2 p.m.
There is no cost, although participants in the walkathon are required to register either ahead of time at the shelter, online or in-person that day. Participants must be at least 16 years of age, or accompanied by an adult.
Once registered, people are encouraged to get a pledge form and get pledges to sponsor their walk. People are allowed to pledge any amount of money, without restriction or limitation – all of which will go to the Headwaters Animal Shelter.
The walk itself will go down the Heartland Trail and then circle back to the park.
“We encourage people to be there at the beginning, but they don’t have to. If they want to walk later they can. That’s fine,” said Mary Aho, the Headwaters Animal Shelter treasurer.
“You don’t have to do the whole walk, but you get a coupon for a free cone from Dairy Queen when you get to the end of the walk before you turn around, so there’s an incentive.”
Once people have finished their walk they will end up back at the park, where vendors will be present with samples and offerings and exhibits will be set up for activity as well as learning.
Exhibits available will offer low-cost micro-chipping, agility and rally courses, raffle prize drawings, free vendor samples and drawings, custom pet I.D. tags and nail trimming and grooming.
There will also be family-friendly games including an owner and pet look-a-like contest, doggie musical chairs, a flyball racing demonstration with Paul Bunyan Dog Training Association (kids will race against the flyball dogs) and a scavenger hunt (clues will be available at 11 a.m.) among others.
Aho and Tails on the Trail coordinator Jan Kehr believe the event is more than just a fundraiser for the animal shelter; it’s also a great opportunity for the community to learn and have fun at the same time.
The theme this year is “Paws-itively pets,” focusing on the joys and fun that can come from pet ownership. Past years, the focus has been service dogs and safe training.
“The idea is that it’s fun. You can have fun with your pet, and have fun doing things that your pet likes,” Kehr said.
“Each of the exhibits has its own focus. We’re trying to educate kids as to how to care for and be a companion for animals. It’s a fundraiser, but it’s also education and fun,” Aho said.
“We hope it continues to grow. Our needs here at the shelter continue to grow, and we can only ask the public to donate so much. Here they are donating too, but they can also have fun as well. There are some things that you’re not going to see anywhere else in the Park Rapids area. You have an opportunity to talk to some real experts and have some fun,” Aho said.
“It’s really fun to see all these animals together and having a really good time. It’s just been an enjoyable time every year.”