Annual 'Bark in the Park'

Mark Watson Park
Sep 29, 2013
1:00 PM - 5:00 PM

Enjoy a day with your dog at the annual “Bark in the Park” to be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 29 at Mark Watson Park in Sylva. Western Carolina Dog Fanciers Association and the Jackson County Parks and Recreation Department are sponsoring this event in conjunction with the American Kennel Club’s “Responsible Dog Ownership Day.”

New this year is a chance to allow your dog to try the exciting sport of coursing ability, one of the fastest growing dog sports in the United States. Once this sport was restricted to the Sighthound breeds, but several years ago the AKC realized that most dogs love to chase and created a version of lure coursing for all dogs called a coursing ability test. UKC followed suit, and now all dogs can earn titles in both registries while having fun.

Bark in the Park offers an opportunity for you to bring your dog out to watch and participate in some short coursing fun runs. Now is the time to see if your dog is keen and wants to chase a little trash bag around a field. Your dog will love it, and you will never see such a big smile on your dog’s face. Who would think a little white trash bag could cause such excitement?

The “fun runs” at Bark in the Park will be conducted by experienced members of several AKC & UKC Coursing Clubs from North Carolina and Georgia. These folks are passionate about the sport and will create a safe, fun course for your dog. They will assist you in the fine points and make sure you and your dog have the time of your lives. Your trash bags will never be safe again.

No special training is needed. The only equipment needed is a strong lead. Dogs will run without collars for safety reasons, but the coursing area is completely fenced. Be mindful that this is a strenuous sport, dogs will give their all and it is not a sport for overweight or dogs with diagnosed heart conditions.

Also new for 2013, the kennel club is raising money to purchase a Kevlar Vest and cooling equipment for an area police K9 dog and will have a raffle for a custom oil painting of your favorite pet donated by John R. Havrilla, valued at $150. To view some of the beautiful portraits by this artist, visit his website at

The event will also include demos in agility and freestyle dance and a carting dog and a gun dog will also demonstrate their talents. Plan on meeting area K-9 officers and their dogs.

Have questions about your dog’s behavior? There will be a certified animal behaviorist there to help with your problems.

Contests for you and your best friend include the ever popular costume contest — and new this year, a “Mutt-ster Piece” contest, where you dog can create art with his paws. The finished pieces will be judged at the end of the event for the Best in Show award, and you can then take your's home for framing. There will also be a booth for face painting for the kids.

This event will also play host to vendors, groomers and area humane societies and rescue organizations. To encourage dog owners to pick up after their pets, there will again be a “Poop Bag Raffle." Just sign the pledge to be a responsible dog owner and to “Leave Nothing But Paw Prints” and get free poop bags, donated by — and you may win yet another great raffle prize.

A pet photographer will be on hand to provide on-site portraits of you and your dog, and A&P Roadside Eats from Franklin will offer concessions during the event.

Admission is free. Bleacher seating is available, or bring your lawn chair. Come enjoy a “dog-gone great time” at the Bark in the Park. Bring your well-behaved dog on a leash (no flexies, please!) and join in the fun. Just make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccines.

Directions to the event: from Swain or Haywood County: from Hwy. 23/74 take Sylva Exit 83, follow ramp (turns into a road) to the first stoplight and take a right; go approximately 1/2 mile and take a left just past the tennis courts at entrance sign to Mark Watson Park. From 441N, take a right at the Jarrett House onto Hwy. 23 Business toward Sylva, travel approximately 2 miles; turn right just before the tennis courts at the entrance sign to Mark Watson Park.

Visit the Western Carolina Dog Fanciers Association website at