BERKELEY HEIGHTS, NJ — In order to raise funds for Home for Good Dog Rescue, a foster-based dog shelter located in Berkeley Heights, Cranford’s Nomahegan Park hosted a 5k run and doggy dash on April 30. Registration began at 8 a.m. as runners and their dogs arrived at the park. They received a bandana and treat bag for their pets prior to the race.
This was the second year for the Cranford event that was organized by Shari Gold. Gold adopted her dog, nicknamed “Cassaroo,” after falling in love at first sight. She’s worked for Good Dog Rescue for the past year and a half, and she’s volunteered her time for the past few years.
“My dog, Cassie, is a terrier mix,” said Gold.”Her name was originally Dixie. She came from the south, but all my pets’ names begin with the letter ‘C’, so I had to change her name. Plus ‘Dixie’ didn’t sound like she belonged living in New Jersey.”
Last year’s event took place during tropical storm Joaquin, so this year’s weather was much more suited to the event, although the sun didn’t start shining until closer to the end. A total of 243 participants attended, and the winner of the 5K was Will Smith of Cranford. The Doggy Dash winner was Michael Postaski of Maplewood and his dog Louie. Both winners finished in first place during last year’s race, too.
“We are very grateful that the weather turned out much better this year,” said Public Relations and Social Media Coordinator Matthew Holowienka. “When I first started working with Good Dog Rescue, I wasn’t even a dog person. Now I absolutely love them.”
Good Dog Rescue originated five years ago in Berkeley Heights. During that time, the foster-based shelter has placed more than 4,200 dogs with foster families. Each family’s home is inspected after completing an application with the rescue.
“Different dogs have different needs,’ said Holowienka. “We look for families with fenced in yards and things like that. All our dogs are examined by our
vet before placed into a family. We’ve placed dogs in homes throughout the state as well as in states such as New York and Pennsylvania.”
Sean Gorman and his daughter, Abby, from Cranford, arrived with their shichon, Sadie, for the 5K. Abby and her friend, Caitlyn Farago, were advocates supporting the dog rescue for Girl Scout Troop 40332. The girls were excited to participate in the event.
“The girl scouts are also supporting the water station on riverside,” said Gorman.
Prior to the start of the race, Union County Freeholder Bruce H. Bergen took the podium. He informed residents about the county’s plans to partner with the animal shelter to start a regional shelter that would provide animal control while promoting humane treatment. The county also passed a resolution to support a bill to ban or curtail the operation of puppy mills in New Jersey.
“Welcome to the beautiful county park,” said Bergen. “We are happy to host the 5K Doggy Dash today. As a dog owner myself, I’m happy to support dogs without a home. They deserve a second chance at life.”
The 5K began at 9 a.m. promptly followed by the Doggy Dash, where owners and their dogs ran the 5K together. At 9:30 a.m. a one-mile dog walk began. There were signs along the way that told the story of Good Dog Rescue. The race started at the baseball diamond and ended by the parking lot.
Mimi Nguyen and her brother, Michael Nguyen, of Scotch Plains, attended the dog walk with their dogs Maggie May and Ashley. Maggie May is a terrier mix, and Ashley is a poodle. Maggie May was a rescue, and Mimi talked about their experience together.
“Rescuing Maggie May has been a challenging but rewarding experience,” said Nguyen. “She’s afraid of other dogs. We brought her today to try to socialize her. This is her first 5K. My brother runs marathons, and he suggested we come today.”