There was a miniature agility course at the Summer Dog Days event at the Crescent Street Dog Park on Sunday, but the dogs were pretty much ignoring it.
They had collectively decided that jumping onto the refreshment table would be a much more worthwhile test of agility than bounding over the plastic hurdles set up for them in the field.
Five-year-old Mortie, a fluffy, gray, 91⁄2-pound Schnoodle, took a flying leap and landed triumphantly on top of the bags of bagels, only to be shooed off by someone who had signed up to serve food solely to the two-legged crowd.
“He definitely is persistent when it comes to treats and stuff. He’ll go right in there and try to get it,” said his owner, Tommy Cuda of Schenectady.
A young German shorthaired pointer followed Mortie’s lead, but was caught in mid-air by event organizer Adam Fehn.
Other hounds, less brazen, sniffed hopefully around the table, wagging their tails and waiting for the humans to turn their backs.
The dog park, at the corner of Crescent Street and Route 9, is typically rampant with doggie antics. Owners can let their canines loose in the large tree-lined field and watch them run wild.
“It’s just a pleasure to see them having so much fun, and I think it’s good socialization with people and animals. It tires him out and gives me a break,” said Cuda, gesturing toward Mortie, who had moved on to chewing through a plastic bag full of dog treats someone had foolishly left at dog level.
Sunday the park was packed with pups — the usual crowd and others who came with their owners to support the Summer Dog Days event, which was held to raise funds to put a fence around the park’s approximately three-acre field. Earlier in the day, volunteers had banded together to clean up the park.
Fehn, who is the land steward for Saratoga Spa State Park, said his goal is to create a strong Friends of the Dog Park group to help keep the park clean and continue to raise funds for the fence.
The dog facility is located on state park land.
The fencing that Fehn hopes will eventually define the dog-park boundary won’t come cheap, especially because the part bordering the road must be wrought iron. He estimates that when it’s done, the fence will cost somewhere around $50,000.
So far, there are a few thousand dollars in the coffer, and Fehn said he hoped to raise $1,500 by selling food, raffle tickets, and registration tickets for the human-sanctioned agility contest at the Summer Dog Days event.
Cash could come in from other sources as well, noted Sara Ellis, owner of Dawgdom dog boutique in Saratoga Springs, who helped organize the event.
“It’s not official yet, but we have gotten some word that the state park, along with the city, might be pooling some money and making donations themselves,” she said.
Even without the fence, the dogs kept to the field Sunday, running in packs, rolling in dirt patches and sniffing everything within range. Their owners watched from the sidelines with amusement, trading dog stories, coffee cups in hand.
“Everybody socializes with everybody, just like the dogs,” noted Phil Rodriguez of Charlton, who was there with his giant schnauzer, Bentley. “The people are so friendly out here. Even the people are unleashed.”