Volunteers make Woodford Wag run
BEFORE THE 2-K dog walk, former U.S. Marshal Loren "Squirrel" Carl warmed up with Archie, a Yorkiepoo not much bigger than Carl's nickname. Carl was one of 177 people who took part in the walk. A 5-K race that began 15 minutes earlier featured 106 competitors and was won by Gerod Green, 29, with a time of 18:48. (Photo by John McGary)
SOME DOG WALKERS like Monica Seitz, 13, chose to run the 2-K Dog Walk during the seventh annual Woodford Wag Saturday morning at the county Park. Seitz was accompanied by her dog, Hermione. (Photo by John McGary)
Dale Eckert blew an air horn twice Saturday morning: at 8:30 a.m. to start the seventh annual Woodford Wag's 5-K run, then 15 minutes later, for the start of the 2-K dog walk.
A few minutes later, referring to Woodford Humane Society Executive Director Katie Hoffman, Eckert said, "She jokes that I spend a lot of money to blow this air horn." Eckert is the medical director of VCA Woodford Animal Hospital and the co-owner of the Woodford Veterinary Clinic Kennel, a sponsor of the Woodford Wag the last several years. He's also a member of the Woodford Humane Society's advisory council and his daughter, Casey Eckert Kight, is a veterinarian and member of the humane society's board of directors. Eckert was at the county park Saturday with his wife, Ginny, and Tiny, their daughter's aptly-named rat terrier mix. "I'm always amazed at the number of volunteers they have for these sort of things ." Eckert said, surveying the many people wearing yellow t-shirts. Marketing Director Beth Oleson put it another way. "We'd be lost without our volunteers," she said. Volunteers ran the race and walk registration booths and helped coordinate contests and other activities afterwards. With about 300 participants and lots of four-legged friends, there was plenty of potential for the occasional raised hackle. "Most people are pretty responsible about it here," Oleson said. "I think most people who come out here know there were going to be around 100 dogs or so, so they come ready with leashes. Every now and then you'll hear a 'bark bark' and someone gets a little upset, but nothing serious." Before the dog walk, former U.S. Marshal Loren "Squirrel" Carl warmed up with Archie, a seven-year-old Yorkiepoo not much bigger than Carl's nickname. "We've competed every year," Carl said. Carl didn't argue when reminded that the 2-K event was not a race. "No, it's not supposed to be, but I have to move it up a level, because we're competitive spirits," he said, then joked he would have "won" last year but for an eight-year-old who had a dog with longer legs than Archie's. Volunteer Marcia Taylor stood by the finish line, watching Carl and Archie run by as the pair again didn't win the non-race. Though she lives in Lexington, she's been helping the Woodford Humane Society since 2009. "When I retired, I said I was going to do one volunteer thing and I chose Woodford Humane," she said. "It's so good to see all these wonderful dogs and kitties get homes and everything they do here is just top of the line ." Under the pavilion, WTVQ-TV anchor Christine Winter served as emcee. Runners and walkers and their dogs, some of which had been adopted from Woodford Humane, cooled down. Runner Susan Nintzel exchanged a hug and more with her dog, Presley, whom she adopted a few days after Elvis, her pit-chow mix, died of cancer. "He's a kisser," Nintzel said of pit-chow mix Presley. A few feet away, 11-year-old Kate Seitz stood on the stage as her puppy, Henry, was voted the dog most resembling the canine in Woodford Humane's logo. She was there with her three siblings, their mother, Vanessa, and their three dogs, one of which (Percy Jackson) was adopted from Woodford Humane. Another Seitz dog, Hermione, trotted along with Kate's older sister, Monica, during the 2-K walk. Julia Tompkins, 7, did the walk with her dog, Belle, which, she explained, was short for Adorabelle. "I had one of these at my school but I couldn't go, so my mama signed me up for this," Julia said. Winter announced that the top fundraisers were Hans and Vicki Albrecht and their dog, Pistol Pete, and Nickie Danford and her dogs, Daisy and Bode. Between the three humans and three dogs, they've raised nearly $15,000 since the first Woodford Wag in 2010. Danford said she'd raised $1,200 by the evening before Woodford Wag. "I do a lot of Facebook posts, mostly, and it's a lot of relatives and begging and pleading and sitting pretty and that kind of thing," she said, adding that she doesn't begin asking for dollars until a month before the Wag. "Just so it's fresh in people's minds and I'm not sitting there badgering people forever and ever and ever, and also, with three boys, I forget a lot," Danford said with a laugh. "Sometimes they can donate $10 or $15, sometimes they can't. Even if they share a post and somebody sees their post and somebody takes pity on me ." Rieda Walker was there with Roxie, a two-year-old Yorkie whose tangled leash may have led to a mid-race fall. "Well, we just sorta got stuck in the hill and walked up the hill of rocks and I sorta slipped and fell. But I'm OK," she said, displaying a scratch on her left arm. "I didn't even break a nail, so I'm good." Organizers said 300 people took part in the 2016 Wag, the second most in its seven years, and raised more than $6,000 with more expected in the next few days. Perhaps Julia Tompkins summed up the reason all of them were there. Asked why she liked dogs, she thought for a moment, then said, "They're cute and they're also so, so soft."