Westie Walk will feature parade, canine games

Staff Writer
Columbus Parent

Central Ohio Westie Rescue will hold the seventh annual Westie Walk at 9 a.m. Saturday at Friendship Park, 150 Oklahoma Ave.

Co-founder Beverly Ressler said each year the organization helps 35 to 50 Westies. The walk raises about $4,000 toward those efforts, she said.

"We are running out of money right now," Ressler said.

This year, she said, Central Ohio Westie Rescue spent $3,000 on a 4-year-old dog from Missouri. When the dog came to Ohio, it had pneumonia and nearly died. It also had an issue with its legs.

"Both of his kneecaps would pop in and out every time he would take a step," Ressler said.

The surgery worked on one of the knees, but a pin broke in the other and he had to have surgery again in September.

The dog's care included a visit to Ohio State University so rescuers could cure his pneumonia, which was a difficult task, Ressler said.

"It was a condition of the puppy mill," she said. "He had so many infections for so long, it did permanent damage."

The dog, called Robbie, is in a foster home now, but rescuers are looking for a permanent home. Ressler said its next owner would need to realize Robbie is prone to pneumonia.

Westies come from either shelters, owners who want to surrender their animals for a variety of reasons or puppy mills, Ressler said. Most come from Ohio.

"Ohio is a huge puppy-mill state," she said. "A majority of our dogs come from there."

Westie Walk organizers expect more than 200 dogs to participate. Last year about 175 Westies participated, along with a few other breeds.

Ressler's cousin, Jean Detrick, who moved to Gahanna and was looking for a way to meet people, started Central Ohio Westie Rescue.

She loved the dog so she built a Web site, started rescuing Westies and organized the first walk.

Ressler said Westies are small but sturdy dogs. They are terriers, she said, and have lots of personality and plenty of self-esteem.

"They are smart," she said. "They are playful. They are just great companions."

The highlight of the event is a parade through Olde Gahanna, led by bagpipers, Mayor Becky Stinchcomb and police Chief Dennis Murphy. The parade will start at Friendship Park and continue to Creekside. Dogs will have their pictures taken near the waterfall and plaza, Ressler said.

This year organizers added Kanine Kidz Games, which will include a "Weenie Dunk Contest," "Musical Hoops" and a "Canine Maze." A pooch photo contest also is slated.

This year's featured speaker is animal behavioralist Elissa O'Sullivan.

Suggested donation for the event is $15 for one dog and $25 for two or more. The event is co-hosted by the Gahanna Pooch Playgroup.

For more information, visit www.westiewalk.org.