Story and photos by Devin Fisher
Anyone who believes dogs are not integral members of their human families must have missed Dogs Day Out at Turkey Creek Ranch Saturday.
More than 300 two-legged members of the Fort Carson community gathered at Turkey Creek to honor their four-legged family members by joining them in a Trail of Treats five-kilometer fun run/walk and then bragging about their pet during the dog pageant, which included Best Dressed, Too Dog Gone Pretty, Too
Cool for My Collar and People’s Choice categories.
The top three male and female runners in four age groups received wooden plaques commemorating their feats. The top three canines in each pageant event received a paw-pride medallion. The top dog in each category also received a sash, while the handlers were presented a miniature trophy.
The event coordinator, Stephanie Kowaluk, manager of Turkey Creek Ranch, said it is important to hold an event that centers on the four-legged members of the family.
“The dog is a family member … that is their baby,” she said, noting dogs play an important role in the lives of people without children, those whose children have moved out and even when a Family member is deployed.
“It’s no longer just the dog that’s in the backyard,” she said of people treating canines as members of their family. “Most of these people treat their dogs better than my husband treats me,” she said jokingly.
“This was a huge success,” Kowaluk said, noting a four-fold turnout over past years. “We have definitely found something people like.”
Family member Katrina Bundermann said she enjoyed participating in the run with her 9-month-old yellow Labrador, Browning.
“I take him everywhere,” she said. “We go hiking on the weekends, so I figured why not take him on the run.”
However, Browning would have nothing to do with the dog pageant.
“He wouldn’t let me put any clothes on him,” Bundermann said.
Knuckles, a 4-year-old French bulldog, had no problem looking dashing for the crowd in his tuxedo and top hat as he claimed the top prize in the Best Dressed category. It turned out to be quite the day for Knuckles, who also placed third in the People’s Choice category and second in
the run as he paced Capt. Thomas Douglas, 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Division, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, to a runner-up finish in the male 20-29-year-old category.
Douglas said Knuckles was food-motivated in his first running event.
“He sprinted from treat to treat,” he said.
Four-legged participants received doggie bags, filled with gourmet dog biscuits and informational fliers and coupons, and were able to cool off by bobbing for (hot) dogs and splashing in a kiddie pool.
The Fort Carson military police entertained the crowd with military working dog demonstrations and the on-post veterinary clinic was on hand to inform Mountain Post community members of its services. The event also featured local agencies that provide services to include dog obedience training, Amber Alert for pets, pet transportation, dog rescue and shelter, a nonprofit spay and neuter clinic and an organization that pairs dogs with Soldiers to assist in post-traumatic stress disorder therapy.
This was the fourth Dogs Day Out event held in the last five years by the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation. The Turkey Creek Fire caused cancellation of last year’s event.
Kowaluk noted DFMWR is hoping to build a dog park at Ironhorse Park to provide a
“much-needed” resource to the Fort Carson community and hold future Dogs Day Out events.