Every animal has its day at Brown Dog Day

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It’s time again to celebrate our furry, and not so furry, friends as Groveport holds its annual "Brown Dog Day" celebration on Aug. 16 at 10 a.m. in Degenhart Park, located at the end of Lesleh Avenue.

"Anyone is invited, with or without a pet. Any animal can participate as long as they are social and get along with other animals," said Jennifer Hardesty, Groveport Town Hall activities assistant. "The park is not fenced, so we request that you keep your pet on a leash to avoid any incidents."

The Brown Dog Day pet festival is a celebration of the common pet and their owners. The "brown dog" of its title is an all encompassing term meant to include all pets.

The event will feature contests (with medals going to the winners) including: best trick, best costume, pet/owner look alike, most colorful, best kisser, happiest tail, most unusual pet, best treat catcher, and an obstacle course.

"We had a tree frog once who unquestionably won a ‘shortest legs’ contest," said Hardesty.

Hardesty said Brown Dog Day is a communal experience for people and pets.

"I think Brown Dog Day is a great opportunity for pet owners to get together and discuss pet related issues, and for pets to socialize," said Hardesty. "They also get to talk to people from different aspects of the pet industry and pick up new ideas and information on new products."

For information on Brown Dog Day, call 836-3333.

Brown Dog Day origins

Groveport’s Hamler and Hollinger families originated Brown Dog Day in the mid-1990s in Groveport’s Blacklick Park.

"The philosophy behind Brown Dog Day is that none of us is royalty," said Margie Hamler. "It was a chance for us to come together and celebrate who we are, our common experience, and to celebrate pets of all kinds.

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In his proclamation at the first Brown Dog Day, Terry Hollinger made note of this philosophy:

"A ‘Brown Dog,’ a pet without pedigree, loyal, hard working, friendly, the kind of pet or person who is there when times are hard and nights are cold. The coldest nights of all are three dog nights. A night so cold a person must wrap three dogs around them just to stay alive. Anyone whoever survived the cold of a three dog night knows that two of those dogs were Brown Dogs.

Our lives have many three dog nights. Some of money. Some of pain. Some of loss. Some, most dire of all, of the soul. But beside us in each and every one of these moments of darkness there has been that friend who brought us the warm and common touch; who pointed us in a safe direction and brought us home again."

(To read the full text of Terry’s proclamation, see below.)

Hamler said the family oriented Brown Dog Day is "lots of fun, it’s very irreverent, and tongue in cheek…it’s certainly not the Westminster (Dog Show)!"

Hamler remembers one year someone brought a llama to Brown Dog Day, but to her that was not the most unusual pet.

"Some people would bring ‘imaginary pets,’" said Hamler. "They would have a leash with no visible animal attached to it."

The Hamlers and Hollingers ran Brown Dog Day for several years until, according to Hamler, it was "time to move on" and they turned the still popular event over to the village of Groveport.

Terry Hollinger’s original
"Brown Dog Day" proclamation:

"This is the Brown Dog Summer. A summer in which to remember the working men and women brought us where we are.

A Brown Dog, a pet without pedigree, loyal, hard working, friendly, the kind of pet or person who is there when times are hard and nights are cold. The coldest nights of all are three dog nights. A night so cold a person must wrap three dogs around them just to stay alive. Anyone whoever survived the cold of a three dog night knows that two of those dogs were Brown Dogs.

Our lives have many three dog nights. Some of money. Some of pain. Some of loss. Some, most dire of all, of the soul. But beside us in each and every one of these moments of darkness there has been that friend who brought us the warm and common touch; who pointed us in a safe direction and brought us home again.

In this great homeland of ours, those men and women of the Brown Dog, no pedigree, blue collar, upbringing have been the people who have turned back depression and war; held the center when left and right struck at each other through the heart of America; and pulled their families together when the world was going to hell around them.

This summer we are to remember and honor our roots. Say thank you to our mothers, fathers, and elders who are still with us to receive our thanks. We are to hold up the memories of those who have gone before. We are to treat the histories of our families and communities with the dignity they deserve. We are to raise up our family histories so that our sons and daughters can know and appreciate who they are. Know the struggles that have shaped them good and bad.

We are to celebrate not just one Labor Day, but a summer of days honoring our labors. This is to be a summer of gathering strength for the labors yet to come. A time of casting away the burdens of yesterday. A season in which to forgive and let go. A moment of cutting away the clutter of our lives and opening up a clear vision of the next step in our journey.

This is a Brown Dog summer.

Our ancestors were not kings and queens stepping daintily on to the shores of a conquered nation. Our ancestors came out of the fields and off the streets of the world, stepped into a wilderness, and built what had never existed before… "a nation of the people, by the people, for the people."

Take a deep breath Brown Doggers. When all the shouting and celebrating is over we need to be ready to build an even greater structure on that foundation. It’s called tomorrow."

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