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Strutting their furry stuff

First annual Canine Cup gets tails wagging

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November 20th, 2014
residents with their dogs
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Peanuts cartoonist Charles M. Schulz once remarked, “Happiness is a warm puppy.” 

Dog owners at Ashby Ponds, an Erickson Living community in Ashburn, Va., couldn’t agree more. Eager to share their beloved pets with their neighbors, 17 dog owners recently competed in the community’s first Canine Cup, a fun, dog-show-style competition.

“The Canine Cup is a wonderful example of the uniqueness of life at Ashby Ponds,” says Greg Johnson, who brought his papillon Charlie to the competition. “It was a well-planned and executed event that brought us all together to celebrate the things we enjoy most in life—our pets, socializing, and a little competition.”

Sharing their lives

As a pet-friendly community, Ashby Ponds is home to more than 50 dogs, as well as cats, birds, and turtles, all of which are registered upon arrival. Pet owners respect their fellow neighbors by keeping their pets on a leash whenever they are out of their home. With the exception of assistive dogs, dogs are not allowed in indoor public spaces and remain in their residences.

As a result, the Canine Cup provides a unique opportunity for dog owners to share their fuzzy friends with their neighbors. Dozens of residents came out to see what the barking was all about, many bringing donations in support of the Loudoun County Animal Shelter.

The dogs competed for four different distinctions: “Best Dressed,” “Waggiest Tail,” “Most Expressive Face,” and “Best in Show.” Guest judges Caitlin Gibson with The Washington Post, Krista Shires with Loudoun County Animal Services, and Amanda Devers with NOVADog magazine rated the dogs on a four-paw system.

Dressed for success

As the “paws” were tallied, two dogs emerged victorious in the “Best Dressed” category: Joey, a seven-year-old standard poodle adorned as a king, and Buster Brown, a nine-year-old bichon frise dressed in his pajamas, complete with his own teddy bear.

“It was quite an honor for Joey to win the best dressed costume award,” says his mom Alice Buck. “Naturally I was quite proud of him and his obedient behavior. Joey is so friendly and loves people and other dogs.” 

“We are very glad that Buster Brown received an award,” says Joanne Wierzba. 

“He enjoys being around other dogs and had a wonderful time at the event. Because my husband Jim and I are relatively new to Ashby Ponds, the Canine Cup provided us an opportunity to meet with other dog owners for an extended period of time.”

The “Waggiest Tail” honor was awarded to Dusti, a ten-year-old rescued mix breed, and “Most Expressive Face” was awarded to best friends Gigi, a nine-year-old French toy poodle, and Reggie, a nine-year old cavalier King Charles spaniel.

The day’s top “Best in Show” honor went to Greg’s seven-year-old Charlie.

“My first thoughts were: ‘Oh, Charlie, if only you could appreciate the recognition and the importance of this moment considering from whence you came. This moment is for you,’” says Greg. “It was great to see him recognized for being such a beautiful creature and a wonderful part of our lives.”

Like many of the pets at Ashby Ponds, Charlie is a rescue dog who provides great joy to his adopted family. He was rescued from an owner who caged him and neglected to provide food and water. 

“We learned that the weekend before we adopted Charlie, he was at an SPCA adoption event for socialization,” says Greg. “It was there that his tail was mutilated by two dachshunds. His beautiful tail went under the partition separating the dogs. He spent the next five days in the animal hospital and shorty after the New Year 2011, he became a part of our family.”

Best friends

Like Greg and Alice, dog owners at Ashby Ponds enjoy providing their pets with love and affection amidst a community of caring neighbors. Shortly after the Canine Cup, dog owners took part in the annual blessing of their beloved pets on the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi, the patron saint of animals. 

“I have taken Joey to the blessing every year,” says Alice. “It’s a beautiful event and one more reason why I enjoy sharing my life at Ashby Ponds with him. 

“I am thankful to Joey for his companionship and the way he delights in everything and everybody,” she adds. “He’s always here to greet me when I come home, and he gives me an excuse to get out and walk, which is good for my health. It is also a pleasure to meet other dog walkers when we are out for our walks. Like me, Joey is pleased with his life at Ashby Ponds. Every time we leave, he always stands up in the back seat of the car, wagging his tail when we return.”

Greg, too, is thankful for the joy his Charlie brings to the Ashby Ponds community, and he looks forward to next year’s Canine Cup.

“Variety is the spice of life,” he says. “Charlie would love to compete again next year, not for prizes or for fame, but because getting out and socializing with friends both human and canine is healthy and fun for both of us.”

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