Everyone going to the dogs Organized by North Bergen pet trainer, Responsible Dog Ownership Day draws big crowd
by : Jim Hague
Oct 11, 2005 | 1471 views | 0 0 comments | 7 7 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ever since North Bergen resident Connie Formosa decided to dedicate her life to working with animals as a dog obedience trainer, she always envisioned organizing a day strictly for the beloved creatures and their dutiful owners.

Working in conjunction with the Palisades Kennel Club, Formosa organized a Responsible Dog Ownership Day, which was held recently at Riverside County Park in Lyndhurst.

More than 200 dog owners converged on the park, where they were treated to a day of informative sessions as well as fun.

There were canine cardiopulmonary resuscitation classes. Yes, CPR for dogs.

"A lot of people don't realize that you can perform CPR on dogs to save their lives," Formosa said.

There were dental screenings, organized by the Animal General Hospital in Edgewater and Dr. Bill Freedman. The Palisades Kennel Club had a presentation on breeding and show dogs. There were representatives from adoptive shelters like the Bergen County Animal Shelter and from Greyhound Rescue, which pairs former race dogs with new loving owners.

Formosa, whose business, Canine Communications, works with dog owners teaching obedience and social skills, organized the entire event.

"This was tons of fun," Formosa said. "If I had the opportunity, I would do this full-time, planning parties like this for dogs and dog owners. The weather worked out for us and everyone had a really good time."

One of the events that Formosa was involved with during the day was Canine Good Citizen Testing, where dogs are given a small test to see whether they are good with people.

"We teach them to meet and greet people while walking on a leash," Formosa said. "Dogs should be able to greet people without jumping on them. It's just basic good behavior and with some dogs, that's not too easy. Some dogs want to jump on other dogs as well."

So the pressure is on the dogs to either pass or fail the Good Citizen test.

"A lot of dogs do pass the test," Formosa said.

If they pass, they are given an official certificate from the American Kennel Club and a doggie bag (yes, there are doggie bags strictly for canines and not leftovers from restaurants) full of doggie treats.

Nationwide event But the event was also for dog lovers to socialize, to meet and greet others. The Responsible Dog Owner Day is a nationwide event sponsored by the American Kennel Club. Local chapters are encouraged to hold the events in order to bring fellow dog owners and lovers together in an attempt to give their pets longer, happier lives.

Erica Sanfiz, whose Weehawken-based Just4Paws mobile pet grooming service also participated in the event, was pleased to participate.

"I think it was important for the many different pet vendors, but it was also important for responsible pet owners," said Sanfiz, whose dog, Paloma, participated in many of the activities while Sanfiz showed off her business.

Sanfiz said, "There were veterinarians there, shelters there, so much for everyone. For me personally, it was a priority, because I was able to showcase my business. But I also got to meet other dog owners and lovers who live in the area, so it was important for me as a pet owner as well."

Added Sanifz, "There really was a lot of networking going on, but there were so many other benefits there."

Dogs in costume One of the highlights of the afternoon was a dog costume contest. Sanfiz dressed up Paloma like a bee and she won Best Costume.

"It was a lot of fun," Sanfiz said. "Things have changed so much now with dog owners. People are not having children, so the dogs become like their companion or their child. More people want to get involved and do whatever they can for their pets. I thought the day was awesome. I wish there were more days like this."

There were other contests like "Best Tail Wag," "Best Barker," "Dog/Owner Look Alikes," "Best Sit," "Best Down," "Best Trick" and the "Best Owner Grooming Job." Dog-related prizes were presented in all of those contests, all donated by pet-related businesses.

Formosa said that she was happy to meet so many other dog enthusiasts that she only had spoken with in the past, like Sanfiz. One has a business in North Bergen, the other in Weehawken, and the two had never met before last week.

"It was wonderful meeting her," Formosa said. "She has a wonderful service with her mobile grooming. She makes everything so convenient. When everyone is so busy with their respective businesses, it's so hard to get together. This way, we had everyone together. It was one big happy connection and now we'll be able to stay in touch."

Formosa said that the event was such a success that she is already planning for another one next year. "There are a lot of dog owners out there," Formosa said.

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