Monday, July 23 , 2018, 7:36 am | Fair 67º


Local News

Bark for Books Boosts Los Alamos Library Funding with Some Doggone Fun

8th annual event includes dog races, other canine-themed events to help supplement facility’s budget


With owners and strangers cheering them on, dogs of all sizes sprinted — or meandered, in some instances — across a Los Alamos park in a bid to cross the finish line — or just sniff some grass — on Saturday afternoon.

Bark for Books marked its eighth year featuring dog races and other canine-themed activities at Ferrini Park in Los Alamos.

While some dogs barked their eagerness to get across the starting line, others seemed indifferent although owners at the other side of the race course offered favorite toys, treats and promises of praises for the four-legged, tail-wagging competitors.

The event raised money for Friends of the Los Alamos Public Library, to help the small facility, which reopened in September 2015 after a grassroots effort in the community of 1,900 residents.

“In a time when library funding is always threatened, any kind of community support for the library is critical,” said Jon Hooten, president of Friends of the Los Alamos Library.

Held the Saturday nearest the Fourth of July, the All-American event included booths selling hot dogs, used books and more.

“It’s just a good time in a small town for a good cause,” Hooten added.

Not all racers were local. Nika, a schnoodle, entered the fun after vacationing owners Karolina and John Leonte of Los Angeles learned about Bark for Books while at dinner the night before at a nearby restaurant.

“We just said, ‘OK, we’re going to participate’,” John Leonte said.

“She’s fast,” he said of Nika, who captured first place in the medium dog category and second place in the championship. “We figured, hey, she might win.”

The Los Alamos library’s supporters provide approximately $16,000 to keep their facility open longer and pay for additional materials, Santa Maria Librarian Mary Housel said.

“They’re really to be commended for all the work they put into fundraising,” she added.

The Los Alamos facility is part of the Santa Maria Public Library, which has other branches in Orcutt, Guadalupe and Cuyama Valley.

For residents in Los Alamos, the library provides another key service: free access to high-speed Internet.

“That’s the only place in town where somebody can come in, sit down and get free WiFi,” Hooten said.

Bark for Books also included a welcome by Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann, followed by dog demonstrations, dog tricks and a dog costume contest.

Dogs also could get their nails trimmed while pony rides and face painting were available for children.

Hartmann said she was glad the county Board of Supervisors boosted per capita funding for libraries, noting they serve as community centers.

“Dogs and books are both our favorite companions,” she said between dog races. “With either, you never feel lonely, and always feel like you want to go home and feel cozy.

“And this is a blast,” she added, referring to her first time attending the dog races. She said she intended to immediately put her dogs into training to compete next year.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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