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Shepherdstown goes to the dogs for bureau's sake

July 12, 2009|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.VA. -- Delaney's ancestors worked in a niche occupation back in the days when barges plied the canals in Europe.

Belgian barge dogs like Delaney's ancestors lived on the barges. Their main duties were catching rats or jumping into the water, swimming to the towpath and nipping at the heels of lazy horses to make them pull the boats faster.

The wiry little black rescue pooch's only job today is being a "devoted companion" to Rachel Castellano.

Castellano and Jim Humphrey drove to Jefferson County Sunday to give Delaney and Dusty, Humphrey's 11-month-old friendly little brown mutt, some time out of the house.

"We went on the Harpers Ferry (W.Va.) Web site and found out that this was going on today, so we came here," Castellano said.

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She was referring to Shepherdstown Goes to the Dogs, an afternoon doggy picnic at Morgan's Grove Park to raise money for the cash-strapped Shepherdstown Visitors Bureau.

Cheryl Keyrouze, the bureau's part-time executive director, came up with the idea for the fundraiser when she realized that Shepherdstown is a town that loves dogs.

"They're part of the family," she said. "Some restaurants have outdoor seating where people bring their dogs so I thought, why not have a picnic where dogs can be included?"

The visitors bureau, down an alley at 136 1/2 E. German St., is supported by hotel/motel taxes from the Bavarian Inn and Thomas Shepherd Inn, a bed and breakfast.

"We're living hand-to-mouth," Keyrouze said. "There's a lot of potential for the visitors bureau to reach out to other areas we could market, but we need more fundraisers."

Sunday afternoon's activities included a story circle, where owners told their personal dog stories, a short and easy-to-maneuver obstacle course through which many pooches struggled, raffles and a dog photo contest. 

Maddy, a 3-year-old toy poodle, was ferociously guarding the ticket table against other dogs while her co-mistresses, Eunice Earle, and her daughter, Diane Johnston, collected admission money.

Like many of the dogs there Sunday, Maddy was rescued.

"We found her just wandering around the neighborhood," Earle said.

Duchess, an exceptionally friendly wire-haired Dachshund, was another rescue success story.

"She had been kept in a kennel 16 hours a day. Her hair was all long and matted," said Rose Carter of Martinsburg, W.Va. "I've had her since February. She just loves unconditionally."

"Charlotte the Wonder Dog," famous in writing and onstage, was there with Carol Gallant, her owner.

Charlotte was the subject of a book published earlier this year by Gallant, of Harpers Ferry. She tells the story of Charlotte's rescue from a Charlotte, N.C., pound 13 years ago and of their lives together since they first bonded.

Charlotte has played the role of Sandy in the play "Annie" on two occasions.

And then there was Jasper, a 3-year-old west Highland terrier owned by Lynn Shaffer of Shepherdstown.

She brought him to the picnic "so he could meet other dogs. He's never been to a puppy party," Shaffer said.

She said she tried to lead Jasper through the obstacle course, "but he was clueless."

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