Dogs are cool. They just are. Even when it is not plainly evident, every dog has some coolness in them. They may not show it to strangers and it may take several “nice-to-meet-yous” before you are worthy, but hiding in even the most growl-forward, whine-forward, bark-forward canine is a best friend waiting to emerge. People on the other hand: well, some people just have no cool in them. Among the un-coolest of un-cool things infinitely un-cool people do is abandon dogs.
Approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year. Of those, approximately 3.3 million are dogs. Of that number, 670,000 are euthanized. The good news is the number is down over the past 5 years and 1.6 million dogs are adopted each year. This decline in euthanized dogs can be partially explained by an increase in the percentage of animals adopted and an increase in the number of stray animals successfully returned to their owners. And that brings us to the hard working folks at animal shelters. They are doing the work of caring for the animals, getting them back to their home if lost, or getting them adopted into new homes.
Cora Pheidippides (aka Dippy)
We have two dogs, Cora and Dippy, adopted at separate times from the Humane Society of Fairfax County.
Koda Surveys the Route
Kevin, too, has an adopted canine buddy. Her name is Koda and she came into his life through the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, VA. And it was that organization that put on the Pints4Pets fest recently attended by the Trails2Ales crew and friends. The early morning was spent with 2-hours of stoketastic riding at Laurel Hill. We encountered only 2 other riders in the entire time we rode. It was like having a private trail system! Maybe that is a common occurrence is some locations but this close to D.C., it is rare to have an other-biker free session. And it was a great session. I focused on skills: looking as far up the trail as I could, cornering without braking in the corner, smooth negotiation of switchbacks, climbing without a death grip on the handlebars and more. There was a fine mist, almost drizzle underway for much of the ride. Maintained by the untiring Mike Applegate, the trails at Laurel Hill are mostly gravel and handle rain quite well. In this case the mix of mist plus pine straw and leaves made for interesting riding conditions: sections of clear, dry singletrack abruptly changing to tree covered, leaf strewn segments with slippery corners. I dabbed more than a few times. It was such a fun session that I almost didn’t make it back in time to clean up and join Kevin for the doggy shenanigans in Arlington.
Founded in 1944, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is a private, nonprofit, 501c-3 organization. Their services include sheltering and animal control under a contract with Arlington County. They also provide low-cost spay/neuter services, humane education, emergency veterinary assistance, fostering, behavior helpline, and specialized medical treatment for shelter animals. As any non-profit must do, they seek out donations to fund their efforts.
One of those events is Pints4Paws, a combination beer festival and vendor expo hosted at Courthouse Square in Arlington.
At this year’s P4Ps, the weather was outstanding, hot even, for an October afternoon. It was nice to attend an outdoor event without an eye on the sky for the threat of precipitation and no threat of being chased early by a chill. For the entry fee ($25 purchased well in advance and gradually rising to $40 at-the-door), participants entered a fenced-off square block filled with food trucks, vendors hawking services and goods for people and pets and the all-important craft beer booths.
At the entrance we received a small (5oz.) plastic cup which we were entitled to hand off to be filled by volunteers working kegs from New District, Brew Republic, Forge Works, Port City, Old Ox and Portner.
There were no rare or fest-only brews available but it was a good mix with some standard and seasonal brews mixed in. I tried a good IPA from Brew Republic then went to Old Ox for a Golden Ox, their low IBU golden ale. Moving into the darker range, up next was Done & Dusted Dunkel from Portner. This beer had a lot of flavor, with roasted chocolate and caramel highlighting a beer with a fairly light body.
The food trucks had a reasonable number of veggie options and I went for the Farmer Joe, a veggie crepe from Crepe Love. It combines baby spinach, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, sauteed mushrooms and basil pesto in a fresh made crepe. Perfect!
Hunger quelled, it was time for another beer. Old Ox had already kicked – a result of both their popularity and the warm weather.
Over at Forge Works, their table (staffed by volunteers, not Forge employees) was having challenges earlier with the draft lines, but when I went back things seemed to have settled down. I had a Sitobine. Described as a hoppy saison, it provided a bitter kick and nice bite.
No event held close to Halloween is complete without a costume contest – the one at Pints4Paws was the highlight of the day. Koda was decked out as Wonder Woman and she embraced the role. I was sure she was going to win but when the finalists were announced she was not among them. The title of Pints4Paws Costume Contest Winner went instead to a dog dressed as a cup of coffee. I think the dog (a mixed small pup of some sort) took the prize because of stature and not its costume. No one argued the results, which is saying something in Arlington. Koda didn’t seem to mind and was soon busy with a box of tennis balls. Maybe she won after all.
Combining dogs in costumes, a line up of craft brewers and a sun-soaked, warm October day was a recipe for a fun-filled event and one made even better knowing the money spent was going to support the work of a team dedicated to helping a population that can’t help itself. The lost and homeless dogs and cats who find their way to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington may not appreciate how lucky they are, but we humans know the score. Let’s make up for the uncool of our species and support a shelter so they can keep the doors open, the adoptions increasing and the euthanizing decreasing. Now, that’s cool!