Dogs that dream of jumping through hoops, eating garlic meatballs, crossing a finish line to the Rocky theme or even wearing a tutu are in luck.
On Sunday, the Maryland Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is throwing its 10th March for the Animals, which transforms the parking lot on the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus into a show for dogs.
The afternoon event offers pet lovers some exercise for a good cause, games, a costume and pet trick contest, an agility course, shopping and the chance to win prizes, all alongside their canine friends.
Animals can stroll the 1.5-mile route throughout the day with their owners. The route includes watering stations for both two-legged and four-legged walkers, and Frosty Paws ice cream for dogs at the finish line.
This walk raises funds for the SPCA, and dog owners are encouraged to collect pledges before participating. Thirty dollars in pledges will get you an SPCA dog bandana, and $40 gets you a T-shirt, as well.
Last year's event raised more than $180,000 for the SPCA's adoption and foster centers and volunteer programs.
Free ice cream for humans will be offered at the parking lot, and 30 animal-product and food vendors will line the perimeter of the lot offering their wares.
"The event is like a dog fair," said Elizabeth Johnson, assistant director of development for the SPCA. "Kids can take their dogs on the walk and through the agility course, and the adults can shop at the booths. It's a great day for animal lovers of all kinds."
For 136 years, the SPCA has been servicing the greater Baltimore area through advocacy, direct care, population control and screened adoptions to prevent cruelty and neglect of animals. The SPCA adopts more than 3,000 animals a year and has a capacity of 163 dogs, puppies, cats and kittens, all of which are spayed or neutered and receive all their shots before adoption, on its 8 acres known as Evergreen Falls.
If you think your dog belongs on the catwalk, your pet can vie to win a modeling session with a professional photographer in the pet-tricks and costume contests.
"People gather around to watch the dogs howl, roll over and balance a treat on their nose," Johnson said. "And the kids get excited to see the dogs in costumes, which have included a pug in a tutu and a princess."
Back for its eighth year, the Baltimore City Police Canine Unit will demonstrate the talents of its well-trained animals.
The Oriole Dog Training Club returns with an agility course of 12 to 15 stations that allows dogs to jump through hoops, crawl through tunnels and sit on a teeter-tot while their proud owners cheer them on.
"It's a win-win situation for the club," said Jackie Sheridan-Moore, president of the club. "It's not only a good way to raise money for a community cause, but the event also introduces pet owners to something fun to do with their dogs."
Moore and about 20 volunteers from the club use liver and garlic meatballs to entice the dogs into doing something outside of their comfort zone and to entertain the crowds.
In previous years, the event has been held in the rain and snow, which has brought out dogs in raincoats and sweaters.
"Even if it's raining cats and dogs," said Johnson, "we will march for the animals."
March for the Animals is Sunday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Smart pet tricks will be at 12:30 p.m., followed by pet costume judging at 1:15 p.m. at the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus, 3400 N. Charles St. Activities range from $10 to $25. Call 410-235-8826, ext. 136 for more information. For a pledge sheet for the walk, visit www.mdspca.org