Proud dog owners celebrated their beloved furry friends Saturday at the fifth annual Barks & Recreation in Bend’s Drake Park.

The festival featured a variety of ways for people to spend some quality time with their dogs. Owners took pictures in a doggie kissing booth, and some had designs spray-painted on their dogs’ backs. The most popular painted designs were hearts, kissing lips and paw prints.

Dogs of all shapes and sizes were entered into different contests, including best hair, best kisser and best trick. Dogs also competed for best voice and best smile.

Dave Molinari and his wife, Marissa, were visiting Saturday from Santa Cruz, California, with their 1-year-old English Staffordshire bull terrier, Gigi.

The couple was in the middle of a West Coast road trip to celebrate Gigi’s birthday. They were just walking Gigi through Drake Park when they discovered the dog-themed festival.

“We just stumbled on this little riverwalk area, and we had no idea,” Dave Molinari, a Farmers Insurance agent, said. “This is perfect for her birthday.”

Their next stop on their road trip with Gigi is to Ainsworth State Park east of Portland. Then, they will head back to California.

“We are taking her on a little excursion,” Dave Molinari said.

As dogs walked with their owners at Barks & Rec, other dogs sat at booths waiting to be adopted.

Flora Steffan, who runs Herd U Needed A Home, a Bend-based border collie and herding dog rescue and adoption program, had a successful day finding homes for some of her rescued dogs. Halfway through the festival, Steffan had already found new owners for seven dogs.

The rescue program relies heavily on volunteers who open their homes as foster owners. About 35 of the herding dogs are with foster homes in Central Oregon, Steffan said.

The program rescues unwanted herding dogs all over the world and places them in appropriate homes. Bringing some of the dogs to the festival helps connect them with future owners, Steffan said.

“It’s such great exposure for the dogs,” she added.

Kat Rose, a nurse with the Crook County Health Department, brought her 3-year-old sheepadoodle, Ollie, whom she entered in the best hair contest.

Best hair was a fitting category for Ollie, who sported his white and gray curly fur. It was the only contest Rose thought Ollie should enter. The best kisser contest wouldn’t work for him, she said.

“He’s a kisser, but I don’t think anyone would really want to kiss him,” Rose said. “His breath is stinky.”

— Reporter: 541-617-7820, kspurr@bendbulletin.com

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