News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

Canine event sets tails wagging in Sisters

It seems there is no easier way for humans to meet than with dogs as their liaisons. True to theory, a few hundred dogs and their families met with smiles and wagging tails for a fun-filled morning last Saturday in Sisters. Saturday held perfect weather for the Sisters Doggie Dash and "Canine Carnival" centered at the fields behind Sisters Middle School.

Newfoundland, Ruby, and her owner, Lisa Clausen, spied Spike, a Newfoundland/mastiff cross and just had to say hello. The lumbering black and white hairy beast rode over from Salem for the event, bringing his pals, teenage cousins Alexis and Macleay - and their moms.

The Hinkley family came over from Portland for a wedding, and their three human generations participated with their Norwich terrier, Ginger.

Necco, an Alaskan malemute/Burmese mountain dog (read: huge with fur enough for three Eskimo coats), of Bend, along with owner April, was sporting the "doggles" he wears to protect his eyes when he rides in the car with his head in the wind.

Norma, of Albany, and Marilyn, of Madras, and three generations of their cairn terriers "met in the middle" at the Dash to exchange a breeding dog. Local canines were in abundance as well.

People came from as far away as northern Washington for fun and a good cause: the event highlighted the work of the not-for-profit Bend Spay & Neuter Clinic ( that serves the Central Oregon animal population by offering sliding-scale spay and neuter services to prevent unwanted pets from being euthanized.

The "Canine Carnival" portion featured about 20 demonstrators, organizations and vendors from Sisters, Bend, Redmond and Madras. The offerings of pet services and products ranged from personally embroidered collars to dog biscuits to dog-powered scooters to pet cremation.

Behind a table bearing a reclining, calm airedale cross - very calm - oh, it's stuffed - stood the smiling Melanie Monteiro.

"Should I scare you with my sales pitch?" she asked brightly. "My yellow lab, Taiga, makes movie star Marley look like an amateur! Taiga's eaten everything from an azalea to a disposable razor."

Monteiro went through it all so we don't have to - and wrote a book to tell about it, titled "The Safe Dog Handbook."

For the humans, part-time Camp Sherman resident Jonathan Hoffman sang songs "written by his dogs." The warning label on his CD reads "Feline Advisory: Explicit Canine Lyrics." He had the crowd close to howling, but the cats on the sideline didn't think any of this was funny.

The Humane Society of Redmond ( had a crate of a half-dozen kittens who watched with great suspicion and threw a few hisses at passing dogs. But that didn't deter the humans from also donating to the Humane Society of Redmond.

Board member Ron Shirley was all smiles, calling the dash "a spectacular event."

Dogs of all leg lengths got to try lure coursing. The Mt. Bachelor Kennel Club members' greyhounds (and greyhound mixes) showed all the dogs how to chase the plastic grocery bag mysteriously zipping away in the grass. Onlookers could definitely tell which of their pals were bred for the chase, but even the pomeranians had fun trying it.

About half the dogs were mixes and many were rescues. It was impressive how well all those dogs got along, and how diligently the humans cared for everyone's feet (and shoes and clutch pedals): This correspondent observed only one handful of forgotten poop.

The inaugural event is the brainchild and hard work of Sisters resident Scott Buckles, who participates in and has organized athletic events for runners and cyclists.

"Folks around here, we love our dogs, we take them with us, and I thought it would be great to have an event like this here, so I created one," he said.

The non-competitive dash (three mile run) and stroll (two mile walk) had to be rerouted the day before when Buckles, at the start of his all-night preparations, came upon a crew marking out a stretch of road for repaving - along the dash's planned course.

"Oh, I always have backup scenarios for everything when planning an event like this," he said, unperturbed.

The final route avoided the tar and paving machines by looping through the neighborhood behind Sisters Middle School.

For the last few minutes of the event, everyone gathered on the grass, dogs splashing in kiddie pools, in front of the podium where Buckles and a team of kids gleefully drew entrants' numbers to raffle the dozens of donated prizes.

"I'm already excited about next year's Doggie Dash. During the stroll, there were folks calling their friends, saying, 'hey, you have to come do this!' We'll have more demos and more dogs and even more fun!" Buckles said.

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