EASTON — With warm weather spilling over into autumn, there may have been more dog hair scattered across the weekend’s Waterfowl Festival than leaves.
That being said, for a festival dedicated to showcasing fowl-themed art and celebrating the sport and culture around hunting, dogs are just as much a part of the program as anything else.
Beyond the pooches prancing around Easton, adding a furrier aesthetic to the beak-filled weekend, programs such as the retriever demos and the North American diving dogs spotlighted the athletic grandeur and tactical skills of the animals.
Russ Hubbard, a postal worker from southern New Jersey, said that the pets walking, jumping, and sniffing around are a “big” reason why he regularly makes the trip to the Waterfowl Festival.
Ever the conversation starter, the dogs scattered about Easton also gave owners the chance to meet new people, learn about different breeds, and, in the case of Lynne Forsman from Annapolis, take in the festival.
“Having my dog with me is great,” Forsman said. In addition to being a “dog about town,” her 10-year-old golden retriever Adi has doubled as the unofficial mascot of her environmental initiative, Annapolis Green, for years. “It slows you down a little bit, so you can appreciate everything.”
Of course, the sensations of the sights, sounds, and smells of the festival extended to the dogs, as well.
That was especially true of Doozy, a 9-and-a-half year old Australian labradoodle who nustled up to as many passersby as her paws – and leash – allowed her.
“She thinks she’s two,” Doozy’s owner Jim Reyman from Easton said. “She just loves people.”
“He’s just so excited because there are so many pups,” Janice Vernon from Mays Landing, Nj. said of her cockapoo, Bailey.
“She loves all the people,” Tony Kern from Easton said. His dog, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named Lilly, was quite energetic walking down S. Harrison Street.
Amazingly, considering the number of dogs at the Waterfowl Festival and the number of bird-based drawings, structures, and pictures strewn about, barks did not dominate the downtown area.
“We’re very impressed with how she’s done,” Chris Walsh from Easton said of his Welsh springer spaniel Hazel, a “pandemic puppy” who just celebrated her first birthday. “Not only with people, but with other dogs as well.”
Though 2020’s Waterfowl Festival was canceled because of the pandemic, its returning show proved that the pooch presence is an absolute guarantee.