ALL paws lead to Nundle again tomorrow for the annual doggy day out where every man and his dog looks to unleash the beast.
While organisers now expect about 2000 to 3000 humans to turn up, they’ve given up trying to count the number of canines and simply take a stab at it these days.
“Maybe a thousand dogs, ooh or maybe 800, I don’t know exactly, but it’s certainly a lot,” said Susie Bell, one of the dog lovers from way back.
Susie’s seen about 10 events in her time and another committee sidekick in Nundle, school principal Ian Worley, has been five years in action for a fun family day that sees the village of 300 outnumbered nearly three to one by four legged animals of every size, shape and Heinz variety.
Most people bring at least one dog with them and the teacher’s pet even gets a start. He’s a five-year-old kelpie called Brazel who’s been in the Worley household for a few years and was actually a placegetter in the blue ribbon event four years ago.
“He’s excellent as a runner but he’s just got some anger management issues. He starts well but then stops to have a look around at the rest of the pack,” Worley admits.
But dogfights are rare.
“There’s been surprisingly few of them. I don’t think I’ve actually seen a dog fight in my time. They’re just like dealing with kids – you keep them busy and they’re fine,” he said.
Each year, since the novel first running of it back in about 1979, the organisers are dogged in their post-match reviews, weeding out problems as they go. This year there’s more food outlets and more food because 2013 showed a bit of a bottleneck for visitors in chowing down on picnic food. And there’s some new foxtails but basically it’s a bit more of the same, but better.
There’s 13 events this year, down from a top of 20 canine contests recently, and 12 of them are exclusively for dogs.
“There’s a race for kids with their dogs where they run with them on a lead, and it’s a killer for laughs,” says Bell.
“It’s more like these kids are dragged along by flying dogs rather than the owner holding the leash.”
Also top of the pops is the doggy high jump and the housedog races, where the family mutt rules.
The signature event, the Great Nundle Dog Race, is where the best working dogs, the collies, kelpies and cattle dogs usually fight for the collar crown.
But there’s also the cutesy champagne sprints, where mega dogs (those over 50cm high), the middys (the most popular beer-and-skittles type mutts) and the minis (the little toys dogs that can’t even stand 30cm high) battle it out.
“It’s so easy to enter, you just buy a ticket before the race starts and let your dog do the running,” says Bell.
In many of the races, you need two human handlers, one holds the pooch while another runs to the finishing line and the dog calling begins – or at least a whistle to get your pet heading to you.
“But most dogs are so excited to be running free that they completely forget they’re supposed to be in a race,” she says.
It is puppy pandemonium on all paw fronts but mostly it’s a huge fundraiser for the local school.
The dogs definitely rule when it comes to the Nundle recreation ground on Sunday and it all starts from 10am and runs to 3pm.