SHIPPENSBURG - Dogs rule at Furry Fun Days, a two-day celebration of all things canine taking place from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, June 4-5, in Shippensburg Township Park, 304 Britton Road, Shippensburg.
Humans are also admitted, particularly if they're dog lovers at the end of a leash.
Linda Asper, one of the founders of Furry Fun Days, said typical attendance is "well over 1,000" - and that means 1,000 people and 1,000 dogs, she said.
The rain-or-shine event features vendors, games, food, demonstrations and four-legged fun. Area shelters will be on site with dogs looking for adoptive families.
Guests can meet and play with the orphans, but no adoptions will take place during the festival. Participating shelters include Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter, Knick Knack Pittie Pack, Better Days Animal League, Mountainside Pet Rescue, Furever Love and others.
A sampling of scheduled games shows contests requiring training and ability and others that any mutt can play. There will be Temptation Tower, which calls for restraint as dogs resist the urge to bite into a growing pile of treats; but there's also a Dress Up Your Pup Relay which depends more on the skill of handlers to get their pets to wear T-shirts, socks and scarves.
Dogs that can swim can compete with Ultimate Air Dogs, which sponsors a series of contests in which dogs leap from a dock into a pool. Local veterinanian Dr. John Stoner of Shippensburg Animal Hospital will conduct an "Ask the Veterinarian" session, and Pastor Dan of the First Assembly of God Church of Shippensburg will bless the attendees on Sunday afternoon.
Asper said she likes to see cars arriving at the park in the morning, "dogs hanging out the windows, so excited ... then when they're leaving you don't see the dogs, because they're in the back, sleeping."
The only required cost is a $5 per car parking fee, but attendees are encouraged to support participating vendors and nonprofits, most of them charities that benefit animals like Dogs on Deployment, a group that finds foster homes for dogs whose owners are on active military duty.
Dogs must be under control at all times and retractable leashes are not allowed. Owners are required to clean up after their pets, and poo bags are provided.
Furry Fun Days started as a one-day carnival organized by a group of dog lovers who wanted people to have fun with their dogs while learning how to be responsible dog owners. They soon expanded their mission to benefit homeless animals and expanded their festival to a two-day event.
After eight years, the event nearly fell victim to its own success, as the original organizers could no longer do all the work. Furry Fun Days 2013 was expected to be the final year, and there was no festival in 2014.
Then in 2015 the Shippensburg Rotary Club got into the act, injecting resources and volunteers that can sustain the festival into the future.
Asper just coordinates vendors now, leaving time to enjoy the event. In nine years of Furry Fun, she said, they've never had a problem with a dog. "Owners, yes, but never a dog."
For more information on Furry Fun Days, including the festival rules and a schedule of events, visit www.furryfunday.org