PawtoberFest brings dogs and people together

 The University of Connecticut Paws and Claws, the event, attended by dogs and humans alike, raised money for the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation through a number of games, crafts and raffles on Saturday Oct. 13. (Eric Wang/The Daily Campus)

The University of Connecticut Paws and Claws, the event, attended by dogs and humans alike, raised money for the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation through a number of games, crafts and raffles on Saturday Oct. 13. (Eric Wang/The Daily Campus)

This windy weekend, temperatures finally came down to decent fall levels in time for PawtoberFest on Saturday Oct. 13, which included a number of autumn-related activities. Run by University of Connecticut Paws and Claws, the event, attended by dogs and humans alike, raised money for the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation through a number of games, crafts and raffles.

Admission to the event was $10, and participants were treated with pumpkin painting, apple-bobbing, witch-hat ring-toss, number-guessing games, pin the pumpkin and free cider and Insomnia cookies. The winners of the various games could win prizes like a BarkBox full of dog-related goodies and Dairy Bar gift cards.

Besides all the activities, and perhaps even more exciting for students and community attendees, a number of dogs were milling around, from small Chihuahuas to Dalmatians taller than some of the children. Some of the dogs wore costumes, like a shark outfit or fairy wings.

“Maybe [next year] they could invite local crafters that do pet-related things and they could sell stuff,” Sophia Stoll, a first-semester psychology major said.

Jonathan the Husky made an appearance as well, stopping by the photobooth and giving the small crowd of spectators an opportunity to whip out their phones and get some cute shots of him posing in front of orange, fall flowers. Later he had an exclusive photo shoot with some of the Fidelco German Shepherds there to support the event.

“It’s cool that they have the guide dogs here,” Stoll said. “And it’s nice to see all the dogs, especially for people who can’t have dogs in their dorms.”

The Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation received profits from the event to help in their mission of raising and training guide dogs to assist the blind and visually impaired. Fidelco is located in Bloomfield, Connecticut and trains primarily German Shepherds. They don’t charge for individuals to receive trained guide dogs, which is part of the reason they need support from groups like Paws and Claws.

Paws and Claws is a student group on campus that partners with several animal-related agencies in the area, raising money through fundraisers in the spring and fall. Besides fundraising, the club is “promoting animal wellness,” according to Maddie Fulkerson, seventh-semester anthropology major and Paws and Claws vice president. The club is open to all students.

Work for the PawtoberFest event began last spring when the club started brainstorming for their fall fundraiser.

“Normally we do a 5K in the spring, which is a lot of work,” Fulkerson said. “In the fall we do something less involved.”

Much of the work included calling sponsors for donations. At first, it wasn’t envisioned as a festival, but festivals are such an autumnal event that it made sense to the club, according to Fulkerson. This was the first year the club used Pawtoberfest as a fundraiser, but Fulkerson was happy with the turnout and said they may make it an annual event.

“I think people are happy,” Fulkerson said, “so I’m happy with it.”


Alex Houdeshell is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at alexandra.houdeshell@uconn.edu.