Dog owners who love free events where dogs are welcome should put this on their calendar: the 46th (legislative) District Pet Expo at the Washington County Fairgrounds in Chartiers from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. next Saturday.
The first-time event is hosted by state Rep. Jesse White, D-Cecil, and Pet Search. Since 1987 the rescue group in Washington, Pa., has found homes for 6,000 animals -- dogs, cats, pot bellied pigs, pigmy goats, birds, reptiles and ferrets.
A Pet Expo highlight will be the 12:30 p.m. pet parade and pet costume contest.
Look for dogs named Billy, Peggy and Morgan, who will be enjoying an outing with their foster family, Kent and Sherry Knight. They have jobs -- he's a business executive and she's a high school art teacher -- but their passion is Pet Search, which they founded.
About 19 families provide temporary care for animals until permanent homes can be found. The Knights also have permanent pets -- six dogs and 15 cats adopted from Pet Search because, she says, they had "special needs" that made them unlikely to be adopted by other people.
Pet Search volunteers also take therapy dogs to hospitals and other venues, and they trap, neuter and vaccinate feral cats.
Mrs. Knight highlighted three animals that are coming to the expo, hoping to catch the eye of people who will adopt them:
Billy, 1, a boxer mix whose owners gave him up when they divorced.
Morgan, 2, a small beagle who was picked up as a stray.
Peggy, 3, is a 65-pound spotted dog that Mrs. Knight says is a "mountain cur." As a puppy she was given to a 90-year-old man who couldn't handle her, so she spent her days tied outside on a chain and her nights alone in a basement. Peggy is now enjoying a more active and social lifestyle.
Billy and Morgan love everyone, Mrs. Knight said, and they get along well with children, cats and dogs. Peggy loves cats and people, but she is bossy with other dogs and would be happiest in a home where she's the only dog.
Pet Search has more than 200 cats in foster homes, and some will come to the expo.
Go to www.petsearchpa.org for further information and to see pictures of adoptable animals, including Scrappy, a pit bull-boxer mix who has been waiting for more than two years to be adopted.
Vendors, including Pet Search, will be selling toys and other items for animals and for animal lovers. Thirty vendors have already signed up, and there's room for more. To sign up, call 724-746-3677. There is no cost for vendor booths for nonprofits. The cost is $25 for others.
"I've been wanting to do a Pet Expo for several years," Mr. White said. He and his staff stage and host a variety of events, including expos for seniors and events for veterans, he noted, so a Pet Expo is simply serving another constituency.
Mr. White's personal pets are Abby, a Labrador retriever-beagle mix, and Delano, a Cavalier King Charles spaniel-bichon frise mix.
Free demonstrations include:
• 10:30 a.m.: Karen Sable of Pet Emergency Training will show how to do CPR on a pet, and how to save a dog or cat that is choking.
• 11 a.m.: Dog training demo.
• 11:30 a.m.: Staff and animals from the Animal Rescue League Wildlife Center in Verona.
Pet Search is offering low-cost microchipping ($25) and inoculations: $6 rabies, $10 canine DHLPP booster, $10 feline FVRCP booster, $15 feline leukemia, $10 kennel cough and $20 Lyme disease.
The same prices are offered the next day, Aug. 26, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Pet Search Rabies PLUS Clinic, 915 Jessop Place, Washington, Pa.
The third annual Dog Day Festival will be 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday at Hartwood Acres Park Amphitheater. Dogs and their owners can frolic for free, courtesy of the Allegheny County Parks Department.
Walk along the dog trail, visit the off-leash area in the north suburban park, and participate in the dog kissing contest and other activities. Detectives from Allegheny and Armstrong counties will do K-9 demonstrations. Pittsburgh Veterinary Specialty & Emergency Center staff will talk about their Dog Blood Bank and their Dermatology Department. Get free advice about grooming and nutrition. An artist will do dog caricatures.
Petco will give away food, dog scarves, water bowls, leashes, tennis balls and coupons while supplies last.
Heart Dog Fashions, Dog Watch of Greater Pittsburgh and Petco are providing prize baskets to be raffled to benefit the Animal Rescue League, which will bring adoptable pets.
Seven "PGU continuing education workshops" are being offered this fall, with Post-Gazette reporters and editors teaching about topics in their field of expertise.
We're calling my course "15 Minutes Can Change Your Dog's Life." The 7-9 p.m. workshop on Sept. 26 starts with learning how a daily 15-minute play session can make your dog a happier and better pet. We'll talk about the toys and games that will help you achieve this.
We'll also talk about time-tested housebreaking tips, how to pick the right pet for you and your lifestyle, how to find fun places to take your dog -- many of them free -- and more.
Other courses include "Pennsylvania Whiskey" taught by Bill Toland, our cocktails writer, Fort Pitt Museum education director Andrew Gardy and local whiskey distiller Eric Meyer. This course provides sample tasting, which I can't match, although I hope to have some sample dog toys.
The whiskey course is at the museum in Point State Park. The other PGU classes are at our Downtown location, 34 Boulevard of the Allies. Workshop fee of $35 includes free parking. To register: www.post-gazette.com/pgu or call 412-263-1302.
Pet Tales appears weekly in the Saturday Home & Garden section. Linda Wilson Fuoco: email@example.com or 412-263-3064.