PAWchanga! offers free family fun

HARLINGEN — Bring your pet and join the fun when Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets hosts its second annual PAWchanga!, a free pet- and family-friendly event.

The pet fun is set for Saturday, Feb. 13, at the Victor Park Pavilion, next to the Harlingen Rotary Bark Park from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

PAWchanga! was rained out in October and rescheduled for Feb. 13 to coincide with Valentine’s Day, so “love is in the air” as we gather humans and pets together in an entertaining atmosphere.

Children, adults and pets can enjoy fun events like a pet costume contest, youth art contest, arts and crafts, a doggie fortune teller and more, all while learning about the benefits of therapy pets and how to become involved as volunteer therapy pet teams.

RGV Therapy Pets is a nonprofit organization dedicated to raising awareness about the charitable benefits of therapy pets, and to encourage and assist people and their pets to become registered as therapy pet teams.

Volunteer therapy pets provide a variety of motivational, educational and recreational benefits to enhance the quality of life of hospital patients, retirement home residents, special needs students and many other segments of the community.

Therapy pet teams will give demonstrations on what is needed to pass an evaluation to become a registered team. Professional dog trainers will be on hand to offer training tips in a special “Can Your Dog Do This?” area, which will be ongoing during the festival.

Individuals who visit all six “Can Your Dog Do This?” stations will be entered into a drawing for prizes to be awarded at the end of the day.

Trainers from the RGV K9 Training Centre will give dog obedience demonstrations and Jenisa Meyers will be on hand to perform tricks with her border collies Dewey and Blaze.

Jenisa and her dogs were invited to audition for the David Letterman show, so you can expect to be amazed.

Get your pet all dressed up and enter the Pet Costume Contest, with prizes for first, second and third place winners.

Judging will be held at noon in the pavilion. Impromptu contests for tallest and shortest dog, longest and shortest tail and more will offer prizes throughout the day.

A “Love of Animals” youth art contest will give young artists a chance to win prizes as they express themselves with a unique piece of art at PAWchanga!

Young readers can take a turn reading to a therapy pet at the Paws to Read tent and receive a free book.

And if you wonder what’s in store for your pet, a doggie fortune teller will be on hand to gaze into the crystal ball and peek into the future.

“We invite everyone to join us at PAWchanga!, have some fun and learn more about therapy pets and the wonderful contributions these pets and their humans make to the community,” said Katherine Brookbank, president of RGV Therapy Pets.

There will be a variety of informational and vendor booths hosted by PAWchanga! sponsors, and food and drink will be available from R.C. Concessions and music performed by Omar Flores.

PAWchanga! is sponsored by several area businesses, many of which have donated gift certificates for prizes.