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Cleo, a pug, gets a rubdown from owner Sarah Arbour of Bedford. (Kathy Remillard)

Barking in Bedford

A good day to go to the dogs

BEDFORD - Canine companions braved the heat and humidity at the Fifth Annual Dog Show at Bentley Commons at Bedford to benefit the Animal Rescue League of New Hampshire.

The show has provided connection among residents of the assisted-living facility, the community at-large, and the League, giving residents a much-needed doggie fix.

"They just love the dogs," said Kimberly Harrington, the event's coordinator. "It's a great way for residents to get out, have fun and enjoy being a kid again."

Twenty contestants, large and small, some sporting costumes and other accessories, paraded their way down the grassy area at the rear of the building on Thursday to strut their stuff, with prizes for such categories as "Most Talented," "Best Costume," and "Best Behaved."

Prizes were donated by local businesses, and Fungo, mascot for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, made a special appearance.

Paula Mattis, president and CEO of the Animal Rescue League, said events such as the show are not only good fundraisers, but also a way for the League to inform the community about some of the many services it provides.

"We like to do community outreach," Mattis said. "And we want people to be aware of what we do."

From low-cost spaying and neutering services, to a community pet food pantry for low-income pet owners, to neglect and cruelty outreach, Mattis said the League is more than just a place to surrender animals or adopt them.

"These are services we're really proud of," she said.

Residents of Bentley Commons didn't turn down an opportunity for some summer fun, and nearly 150 people turned out for the show.

"We all love dogs," said resident Gerri Inserra, who showed her Yorkshire terrier, Lara. "They're such faithful companions."

Some said the event also provided some welcome social time.

"It makes people forget their troubles, and enjoy the fun of each other's company," said resident Vie Girard.

For dog owner Pam Sleeper, who brought long-haired whippets to the show, there was an educational aspect to the day.

"We're trying to introduce the breed to the public, so we bring them everywhere we can," Sleeper said of the breed that is a cross between a smooth whippet and a sheltie.

Harrington said the show continues to be a positive endeavor for everyone involved.

"It's a good way for us to give back to the community," she said.


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