You never forget your first Strutt.
Mine was in 1998. I’d just accepted a position with the Peninsula Humane Society and decided to check out the organization’s Mutt Strutt dog walk/fundraiser. Yes, it was a way to immerse myself in my new gig.
But, I had other thoughts. This was back in my single days, with Cooper, the adorable black lab as my wing man, and the event was going to involve 250 other local dog people.
No, I didn’t get lucky with love that day, but I did begin a relationship of a different kind.
For the next 10 years, Cooper and I walked in the Mutt Strutt. We walked with my Mom a few times. We walked with good friends. We raised thousands of dollars. My wife and I walked as newlyweds in 2006, and, two years later, we took our newborn daughter and walked Cooper in his last Mutt Strutt.
After we lost Cooper, we took a few years off where I transitioned from participant to volunteer. Water boy, to be exact. The official title was Water Monitor-Lead.
My role was to make sure our other volunteers had water ready for dogs and their people on the back stretch, between the Coyote Point Yacht Club (yes, there is one!) and the now-shuttered Castaway Restaurant. That restaurant, by the way, was the go-to spot for mid-Peninsula kids on prom dates in the mid-1980s.
I did my duty – for two years, no one left thirsty and no empties were left behind.
One dog collapsed due to dehydration; we radioed our staff veterinarian – she was on-call for such emergencies every year, but had never before been called into action – and the dog bounced back to 100 percent after receiving her care and time in the shade.
Last summer, my family decided Murray was Mutt Strutt-ready. Now, we hope to have another 10-year run with him.
We’ll be there next Saturday, Aug. 18, joining about 350 other dog owners and their pups and family members. Come say hi if you see us. Murray looks like the guy in the attached photo; with his newly-shorn summer look - he’s Grover, the Muppet, in taupe.
For some highlights from past Mutt Strutts, I’ll go back a few years before I started.
In 1996 and 1997, Peninsula native Alicia Silverstone (fresh off her mega-hits Clueless and Batman & Robin) served as Grand Marshal. Her mom, Didi, logged more hours walking dogs than just about any other PHS/SPCA volunteer in that era.
A few years later, we tapped Kimberly Guilfoyle Newsom for the same role. This was before her move to New York, her wedding to and break from the Mayor (the one after "Da Mayor"), and superstardom as the media’s favorite legal expert, but just months after she represented the prosecution in the Diane Whipple dog mauling case.
After a few Mutt Strutts without a glam ribbon-cutter, we went with a notably different look: Tom Vacar. You know him as a silver-coiffed consumer reporter for KTVU, but he’s also a big-time dog lover and all-around good guy. He emceed our festivities for a few years, before we handed the mic to longtime Bay Area media personality, the bubbly, irrepressible Janelle Marie.
The past few years, it’s been all about the dogs. No A-list celebs or local notables. Just dogs and their people. Lots of them. If you like seeing a menagerie of dogs at the local dog park, you will love this event. We have dogs of all sizes, dogs in costumes, three-legged dogs and dogs in wagons and carriers.
Best of all, it all goes to the dogs - shelter dogs, that is. All proceeds from registration fees ($28/strutter) and pledges hauled in by participants help our shelter animals who need medical work or behavioral attention so we can make them better and find new loving homes.
All registrants receive our coveted event t-shirt, and their dogs take home the custom bandana.
If you’re still clueless, check out www.PHS-SPCA.org.
Note: This year's Mutt Strutt takes place in San Mateo - read for more details and a video from last year's Strut.