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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Dog celebration to raise cash for Nashua shelter, sink teeth into Guinness record

By TINA FORBES
Staff Writer

NASHUA – Celebrating more than three decades as a top fundraiser for the Humane Society for Greater Nashua, the Wags to Whiskers Festival is set for Oct. 1 at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Merrimack.

“It’s a great event; people really enjoy being there,” said Laurie Dufault, development director for the Humane Society. ...

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NASHUA – Celebrating more than three decades as a top fundraiser for the Humane Society for Greater Nashua, the Wags to Whiskers Festival is set for Oct. 1 at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery in Merrimack.

“It’s a great event; people really enjoy being there,” said Laurie Dufault, development director for the Humane Society.

The festival has been a Humane Society staple for 33 years, and it has been held at the Anheuser-Busch Brewery for the last nine. The celebration includes more than 40 dogs and puppies waiting to be adopted, food vendors, a beer tent, a kids zone with carnival games, and entertainment for dogs and people alike.

This year, the Humane Society will hold another attempt at the Guinness World Record for the most dogs having their teeth brushed at once – something the organization narrowly missed achieving at the 2015 event.

“We were a little shy last year,” Dufault said.

The record of 268 dogs was achieved in Hong Kong in 2012, and in Merrimack last year, the goal was nearly met with 251 dogs participating in the attempt.

“We were just short, and we had so many dogs there last year that we’re really positive about going over the record this year,” Dufault said.

In 2015, more than 2,000 people attended Wags to Whiskers, bringing about 650 dogs with them.

The attempt will take place at 1 p.m. on the Anheuser-Busch Brewery ballfields, at 221 Daniel Webster Highway.

Participants can register until Sept. 30 at www.hsfn.org/events/wags/world-record or www.facebook.com/HumaneSocietyfor
GreaterNashua, or at the Guinness World Record tent the day of the festival.

Everyone in the record attempt will receive a free dog bib and tooth-brushing kit, including pet-safe toothpaste, to be used – the Humane Society hopes – by pet owners at home.

The synchronized tooth-brushing will start at 1:20 p.m. and last 3½ minutes.

Families can bring as many dogs as they want to participate, but Guinness requires one human per dog for the record, and the human must be at least 16. Dogs must be at least 1 year old.

Participation is free, although there is a fee to enter the Wags to Whiskers Festival, at $10 per person, with a family maximum of $20. The money raised from Wags to Whiskers benefits Humane Society pets awaiting adoption.

Other featured events include the Ultimate Air Dogs, a dock-diving competition, back for their fourth year in a row courtesy of the Animal Hospital of Nashua sponsorship.

“We will have the professional dock-diving competition, but people will also have the chance to have their dogs try it, too – anyone can enter,” said Noelle Schuyler, Humane Society assistant director of development and marketing.

Humane Society staff will also have dozens of shelter dogs looking for permanent homes at the festival, including more than 20 puppies. Dog-friendly vendors will be sharing samples and giveaways, and the cat toy craft area “Kitty City” will be set up again.

“Kitty City was a big hit last year; we had a lot of people who loved making crafts for their cats and planting seeds for catnip,” Dufault said, adding that pet owners aren’t encouraged to bring cats to the dog-dominated event,

“We want to keep the cats safe, and we would rather just have the dogs there.”

Dogs should also be kept on a nonretractable leash, and be up to date on their vaccinations, she said.

Wags to Whiskers will have an activity area for children, with up to 20 games, run by Humane Society volunteer Nancy Gerardi and her daughter.

Schuyler said they will have an activities tent for dogs.

“Something we didn’t do last year is we’re going to have a whole tent of dog games run by Good Mojo Dog Center in Milford,” she said. “They have all the relay games, tricks and interactive equipment to try, and they will also have actual agility equipment.”

The event is supported in large part by the Petco Foundation and the Animal Hospital in Nashua, Dufault said, adding that volunteers donated hundreds of hours in 2015.

“We had about 145 volunteers ... and 571 volunteer hours last year,” Dufault said.

For more information about the Humane Society and Wags to Whiskers, visit www.hsfn.org.

Tina Forbes can be reached at 594-6402, tforbes@nashuatelegraph. com or @Telegraph_TinaF.