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Headwaters walkathon features dog spa, portraits

Rain or shine, Saturday, June 6 will be dogs' day out.

A Headwaters Animal Shelter Walkathon and Pet Expo will debut in Heartland Park with everything from a dog spa to pet portraits to pet clothes.

The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with registration for the walkathon beginning at 9 a.m.

The public is welcome - as observers or participants.

Dogs are invited to walk their masters down the Heartland Trail. Owners will be soliciting pledges or making a donation with proceeds benefiting the animal shelter.

The walkathon spans four miles, but pets and pedestrians can determine their distance. Walkers without dogs are welcome. The ultimate goal is 100 humans "heeling."

Free bandanas and goodie bags will be awarded to four-legged and two-legged participants. Prizes will be presented to humans raising the most money - two iPods for kids and teens and a digital camera for the triumphant adult.

Walkathon participants raising $30 will receive a water bottle; $60 earns a bottle and a T-shirt.

There will be a Dog Pound hot dog stand. Head chef Terry Morris will be creating 15 varieties of dogs - from the German shepherd, with sauerkraut and mustard, to the Chihuahua, with salsa and jalapeños, to the Boston terrier, with baked beans and onions.

A catnapathon has been added to the event. While dogs do what they do best (walk), cats will do what they do best (nap).

Purrrsons (cat owners) are invited to stroll down the Heartland Trail while their pets take a catnap at home.

Meanwhile, the Animal Expo will be in full swing. Dogs are invited to step into the "spa" for a massage, manicure and pedicure (nail trimming), yoga (agility training), etiquette (obedience schooling) cosmetics (animal face painting) and haute couture for hounds (dog clothes).

The Paul Bunyan Kennel will demonstrate fly ball, a relay race for dogs.

Micro-chipping will be available for $30 or a voucher may be redeemed at area veterinarian clinics.

Dog contests will proclaim the ugliest canine and determine the pet that most resembles its owner. A coveted "stupidest pet trick" award will also be presented.

Contestants need not participate in the walk.

A Meet the Breed booth will introduce a variety of hounds.

Girls Scouts and 4-H members will be on hand to share information on tick-borne illness, bite prevention and other topics.

Located on Western Avenue South, the Headwaters Animal Shelter opened in the spring of 2003. Since then, hundreds of cats and dogs have been "matched" with owners.

The operation is financed solely via fundraising. Grants fund medical equipment, but salaries and other expenses are paid with proceeds from dinners, plant and rummage sales and other initiatives.

All dogs must be on a leash and up to date on vaccinations. "Pooh" bags will be handed out at registration.