Theodore Roosevelt would have felt very much at home at Sagamore Hill on Sunday. The grounds of the animal-loving president’s permanent residence were filled with barking dogs and their families during the historic site's inaugural Dog Day.
Sponsored by the Friends of Sagamore Hill, Dog Day was the organization’s kickoff to National Park Week. More than 150 dog owners brought their four-legged friends to the park to enjoy activities, contests, food for humans and dogs as well as special performances and training sessions.
“The goal of the whole day is to promote responsible dog care and dog walking,” said Friends of Sagamore Hill board member Virginia Perrell of Westbury.
Sagamore Hill is one of the few parks on Long Island that invites guests to bring leashed pets onto its grounds. The Long Island Dog Owners Group, a nonprofit founded to advocate for dog parks and allowing leashed pets into Long Island parks, was invited to Dog Day to educate visitors on the importance of exercising dogs and leashing pets.
“This is a wonderful event, and Sagamore Hill is dog-friendly so we love to support the organization,” said the group’s president Ginny Munger Kahn, of Huntington. “We’re trying to spread the word about our cause and help to open more dog parks.“
Dog Day activities began at 11 a.m. and included costume contests, dog-treat making and nature walks through the grounds led by park naturalists. The highlight of the day was a dog training presentation by Rick Caran, of Huntington, who gained international attention for training his Yorkshire Terrier, Jilli, to play poker.
Caran was joined on stage by two of the four members of his traveling show, Team Jilli Dog – Ruby, a Teacup Yorkshire Terrier and Spidey, a rescued Chihuahua. The dogs performed stage tricks, including a one-on-one doggie basketball game, to an amazed crowd of children, adults and their pets. Along with the performance, Caran provided helpful tips for training dogs at home.
“My most important method is to make training fun,” Caran said. “Nothing makes your dog happier than to see you smile, and it’s very important that the dogs have fun.”
Having fun was a priority at Dog Day, and both human and K-9 attendees happily obliged.
“It’s a fun event and a good turnout” said Norine Baylis, of Lindenhurst, who entered her Yorkie-Schnauzer mixes Max and Dilon into the best trick contest. “Hopefully as the years go on, it grows even bigger.”