Canines to get run of Pirates Cove

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Activities including a one-kilometer walk, a midway of pet product vendors and dogs taking over the waters at Pirates Cove Family Aquatic Park are scheduled to be part of the Sept. 7 Freedom Festival and Doggie Plunge.

This is the sixth year Freedom Service Dogs has sponsored the event.

“This year, we added the one-kilometer walk with all proceeds going to help provide service dogs for wounded veterans,” said Stacey Candella, event coordinator. “There will be food vendors and events, demonstration and activities to showcase the wide and varied things dogs can do. At the same time, dogs can splash and swim at Pirates Cove.”

There is no charge for admission to the festival, but there is a fee of $15 per dog for the doggie plunge and a $20 entry fee for the one-kilometer walk.

Registration for the walk begins at 7 a.m. and the walk steps off at 8. The doggie play time in the park and the displays in the park begin at 9 a.m.

Pirates Cove Family Aquatic Park is located at 1225 W. Belleview Ave. Belleview Park is located to the east and north of the aquatic park.

The pool waters will be churned up, as Candella said about 1,000 dogs are expected to take the plunge.

But for owners who don’t want their dog in the water, the festival will be in full swing at Belleview Park. About 30 food and pet product vendors will be set up in the park. There will be demonstrations by the Buckley Air Force Base K-9 team at noon. Also, there will be a fastest dog contest at 1 p.m. and a dog ice cream eating contest at 1:30.

There will also be a place to sign up as a volunteer with Freedom Service Dogs, which moved to new, larger headquarters at 2000 W. Union Ave in Englewood.

The organization was established in 1987 to provide assistance dogs to people with handicaps. Freedom Service Dogs rescues dogs from shelters with the goal of training each animal to perform services for a handicapped individual, such as turning on lights, opening doors and even helping do the laundry. To achieve that goal, each animal must complete a two-year training course at a cost of about $25,000, but the dogs are provided to the clients free of charge.

The organization trained and placed 35 dogs with new owners last year, and the target is to do the same this year.

Candella said many of the Freedom Service Dogs clients are veterans. She said there are 85 people on the waiting list for dogs and about half those individuals are veterans, many of them wounded warriors.

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