Dog love: PAWchanga! to return in October

HARLINGEN — Rio Grande Valley Therapy Pets will again host the always popular PAWchanga!

It’s a free pet- and family-friendly event, set for Saturday, Oct. 29, at the Victor Park Pavilion next to the Harlingen Rotary Bark Park. It will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

This year, the city of Harlingen Parks and Recreation Department has signed on as a sponsor, providing in-kind assistance and promotion.

Also, the Harlingen Rotary Club will help out with volunteers for a special dog park event.

“We’re thrilled to have the city parks department behind the effort this year,” RGV Therapy Pets President Katherine Brookbank said. “And the Harlingen Rotary Club, which spearheaded the effort to create the dog park, will join us as well with volunteers.”

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.

The organization boasts the only two licensed therapy pet team evaluators in South Texas.

PAWchanga! sponsorships are available for local businesses to show their support.

“We have quite a few pet-related businesses as sponsors and other local businesses as well,” Brookbank said. “Our sponsors make it possible to present PAWchanga! as a free public event.

“There is no entry fee and no charge to participate in any of the activities and events. Sponsors also assist us in our efforts to increase the numbers of registered therapy pet teams volunteering in the community.”

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.

During PAWchanga! 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.

Trainers from the RGV K9 Training Centre will give dog obedience demonstrations and Jenisa Meyers will be on hand to perform tricks with Dewey and Blaze, a pair of border collies that became internet sensations with a video of the two pooches hugging that went viral around Valentine’s Day.

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

There will also be free arts and crafts activities for youngsters.

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

There will be a variety of informational and vendor booths hosted by PAWchanga! sponsors, and a food and drink concession will be hosted by the Iron Pigs Motorcycle Club.

“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,” Brookbank said.