If Bend’s Old-Fashioned Fourth of July festival felt familiar this year, that was exactly the idea.

“We bring back all the things that people love,” said Colleen McNally, spokeswoman for the Bend Parks & Recreation District, the host of the annual festival, perhaps the city’s biggest annual draw with between 8,000 and 10,000 people. “I think the best thing about the Old-Fashioned Festival is it feels the same every year, and people love that. It’s very much tradition.”

This year — the festival’s 87th — was hardly different from last, in the best way. In downtown and Drake Park on Thursday was the standard fare — fire trucks, Flush-a-Duck and the Fish Fling. The teeming, painted masses marching in the downtown Pet Parade. The fireworks that were to follow.

There was a great turnout, and good weather (sunny but not too hot for dogs and kids). The ponies sported top hats and the goats wore sunglasses.

“Ah,” said one man, spotting a pig in a tutu. “Perfect.”

So heavy was the flow of man and animal in the downtown Pet Parade that morning, one cyclist waiting for a gap to cross the street, eventually gave up.

“It’s not worth it,” he said, returning his bike to the ground from his shoulder.

For downtown businesses, the great influx of humanity is “Christmas in July” for Dalene Patterson, owner of Bluebird Coffee.

“For every downtown coffee shop, it’s the biggest day of the year,” she said.

Around noon, extra inventory was being delivered to Hola restaurant — notably, margarita mix.

“I’ve got my party shirt on, and I’m ready to get slammed,” said Hola server Naomi Zwonitzer, wearing red, white and blue.

Wise to the crush of impulse buyers, Cascade Sotheby’s International Realty kept open its showroom doors on the holiday. Some milling around the floor were no doubt drawn in by the complementary drinks. It’s usually Day 2 or 3 in Bend that visitors decide to buy here, said broker Geoff Groener.

“That’s about when they look around them and go, ‘I love Bend. I want to live here.’”

Dogs, thousands of them leading their owners, took back the streets. Each was, it’s funny to think, a descendant of the wolf, from floppy-eared King Charles spaniels to shaggy old English sheepdogs. The owners of several breeds marched together, including dalmatians and Bernese mountain dogs.

Next year, a local business could clean up printing bingo cards employing the many breeds on display: rotweilers, ridgebacks, schnauzers and wolfhounds. Newfys, staffys, foxhounds, poms, paps and pugs.

Big dogs are very much in this year, if their presence in the Pet Parade is an indication.

Tank, a nearly 2-year-old English Mastiff, greeted young admirers with a tug that moved owner Tom Schachte’s entire body.

“He’s actually a little scared of small dogs,” Schachte said.

A 40-pound bag of kibble lasts in the Schachte household around three weeks. Tank eats eight cups a day, with chicken sprinkled in.

Turning his massive head to take in new faces was Tahoe, a 150-pound, 15-month old Newfoundland, who drew gasps from children and adults alike.

“Wow,” one man said. “That’s a bear.”

Tahoe’s owner, David Frampton, said he and his family didn’t expect the level of attention from strangers a large-breed dog inevitably receives.

“People just love him,” Frampton said. “He’s so gentle, so good with kids. We love him, too.”

The weeks surrounding the Fourth of July are the busiest of the year for the Humane Society of Central Oregon, according to outreach manager Lynne Ouchida. It’s primarily because Animal Control deputies and good Samaritans bring in so many strays who’ve fled their homes due to the seasonal thunderstorms or the big reason: fireworks.

“We always tell people, if you’re going out on the Fourth, don’t leave your dog unsecured outside. Leave them inside with the TV or the radio on,” Ouchida said. “A scary experience and the owners aren’t there? What are they going to do?”

Scared dogs might run to a new neighborhood, where they hear more fireworks and keep running.

One year, a dog that lived in Deschutes River Woods south of town fled on the Fourth and was ultimately picked up outside Home Depot, 10 miles away.

Fortunately, advancements in veterinary medicine — herbal and pharmaceutical — have given owners more options for calming their pet on the Fourth. There are even audio recordings owners use to desensitize their dogs to thunder, fireworks and other loud noises.

“There’s a lot we can do for pets that wasn’t available even a few years ago,” Ouchida said.

Once again the Humane Society had a large presence at the city’s Fourth of July celebration, where it showed off its kittens available for adoption, publicized its spay and neuter message and gave out info on volunteer opportunities.

The shelter has space for around 100 animals and monitors some 70 in foster homes around the area. Bend punches above its weight in terms pet adoption, Ouchida said. No matter how many dogs come to the shelter, they all tend all find homes thanks to the dog-friendly community and dearth of pet shops selling purebred puppies.

“Trying to adopt a dog from us is the new competition in Bend,” she said. “They go fast.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0325, gandrews@bendbulletin.com

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