Dog-A-Thon offers run, walk and other performance

Pausing with pets

October 10, 1990|By Ellen Hawks | Ellen Hawks,Evening Sun Staff

TAKE A WALK with your dog on Sunday and help some nursing home residents who would like to be walking with you.

A Dog-A-Thon is being held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Memorial Stadium, sponsored by Pets On Wheels, the program of Baltimore's Commission on Aging and Health Education.

One walker on Sunday will be Bob Turk, the meteorologist at WJZ-TV, who has joined the Dog-A-Thon with his golden retrievers since it began six years ago.

Turk's infectious enthusiasm fairly explodes with interest and love when he talks about his dogs.

''On Sunday, I'll walk with Amber and maybe Morgan, and I might bring Rex,'' he ponders out loud.

Amber is 10 and Turk has owned her since she was a puppy. Morgan is her son. Turk brags about Morgan like a proud parent. ''He is the exception in the group. Morgan is a person, not a dog. He was born to Amber on July 5, 1982, and since that day he has been special. He doesn't chase squirrels, dig in the trash, bark at other dogs or anything out of line. He is a person and thinks I'm his father,'' he says.

Rex he describes as a black flat-coated retriever who will be 4 in December. ''My daughter got him from a shelter in Flagstaff, Ariz., and when she moved a year ago to Phoenix she shipped him to me,'' says Turk, a native Baltimorean who has been on the air with WJZ for more than 17 years. He is a graduate of Towson State University with a master's in geography from Indiana University in Pennsylvania.

His pets, he says, have the run of his five-acre place in Baltimore County, and he admits they are spoiled but good. ''My dogs are outside much of the time and absolutely won't go beyond their property line. I have a heated kennel outside, but when I tell Baltimore it's cold and to bring in their pets, I also bring in mine,'' he says. ''Some nights I have one on the foot of the bed, one on the right and one on the left of me.''

On Sunday, a run and a walk are just a part of the day's fun.

Bring your pet's best outfit and enter him in the dog fashion show at 11 a.m. Test your own pet selection by a computer program called Selecta-Dog. By answering 12 questions with multiple choice answers, the computer will match you to one of 93 breeds.

A Pedigree Pentathlon from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. will include agility tests, which are like obstacle courses and are open to all amateurs. There will be many give-aways. Dogs with professional handlers will demonstrate skills in agility, dog-show manners and obedience. K-9, guide and rescue dogs also will be on hand.

Bill Berloni, actor, writer and trainer of pet celebrities, including Sandy in ''Annie,'' will be on hand all day for questions and visits.

The day begins with a two-mile run for athletic owners and their conditioned dogs at 10 a.m. Sign up for this is from 9 to 9:30 a.m. Registration fee is $10.

The 5-kilometer walk can be taken any time between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Walkers obtain pledges for distance walked. If you don't have a pet, bring your stuffed animal for the event and run or walk. Both walk and run are around the Montebello area and back to the stadium.

Although Turk considers himself a ''real dog person'' now, he says he wasn't always interested in dogs. His ex-wife wanted a dog for protection.

''I had never owned a dog and didn't want one. For me, people who owned dogs and carried on about them were weird. But we adopted 4-year-old Bruno from a shelter. He was over 100 pounds. The first time he walked in the house I thought 'This dog will never work. He'll tear up the house and us,' but within six weeks I was sold. Sadly, we lost Bruno to cancer just 8 months later.

''I sometime remember that time when I thought people with dogs were nuts. Now I'm worse than all the others.

''My dogs are a calming influence, we communicate,'' he says.

Turk can't resist advice to those who own dogs. ''I bred goldens for many years but now all of my dogs are altered and I believe that is the way to go. There is too much sadness in the shelters, and most is the result of over-breeding.''

Join Bob Turk and Pets On Wheels on Sunday for a worthy cause. For pledge information or other details, call 396-1762.

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