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Poodle Palooza expands into mini street fair in Rancho Bernardo

Poodle Palooza Extravaganza’s parade and contests are only open to poodles, but dogs of all breeds as well as dog owners and non-owners are invited to the festivities on June 4.

With the RB Alive! Expo canceled, 4 Paws of Love President and founder Robin Kaufman said organizers decided to expand the poodle event so it could become a mini street fair. Kaufman said she hopes to attract local dance and gymnastics studios and other entertainment usually featured at RB Alive!

Sisters Genaveve and Franchesa Bradley dressed in costumes to match their poodles, Cloudy and Anastasia, for the 2019 Poodle Parade.

(Josh DaFoe)

The event will be held from 9 am to 1 pm in Rancho Bernardo’s Webb Park. The poodle parade will begin at 9:30 am followed by contests for best costume, hairdo, trick and group theme. There will be opportunity drawings for dog and non-dog items along with a petting zoo, face painting, demonstrations, a vendor area and food trucks.

Around two dozen vendors have signed up as of Monday, Kaufman said. Nonprofits can request a free space, but if renting a 6-foot table and two chairs there is a $20 fee. All other vendors pay $50 in addition to the table/chairs rental. The deadline to reserve a vendor booth is May 15 at tinyurl.com/PoodlesRB2022.

“We are soliciting any and all vendors and organizations who would normally attend RB Alive! to be a part of our event this year,” Kaufman said.

Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome to attend, she said. The entry fee is $25 for poodles of all sizes to participate in the parade and contests. The first 50 who register will receive a goodie bag.

For several years before the pandemic, a poodle parade and contest were held in the park as a fundraiser benefiting 4 Paws of Love, an American Kennel Club-recognized pet therapy organization that has teams of dogs and owners providing free pet therapy services.

These include opportunities for children to practice their reading skills at libraries by reading to a poodle. Teams visit senior living facilities, memory care centers, skilled nursing facilities and health centers. They also go to schools on de-stress days during exam weeks. All visits are provided free by volunteers.

Kaufman said it is rewarding to go to a library and see children’s faces light up while reading to the dogs, who are not judgmental when errors are made. Other children read to themselves but read on the dogs, like a pillow.

“I love seeing a person who has had a stroke and not said anything for the first time say a word while petting a dog,” Kaufman said. “It brings me joy and happiness. Sometimes we are the only ones who visit … we are bringing comfort and smiles four paws of love at a time.”

Kaufman founded 4 Paws of Love in 2018 after leading another pet therapy organization for several years. That group utilized all breeds of dogs and cats.

“No matter how well groomed, when petted they got fur all over people, which bothered me,” Kaufman said.

In contrast, poodles have “hair” not fur, Kaufman said, and do not shed. That is why she wanted to start a pet therapy organization limited to pure-bred poodles. The group has 12 teams with another two in training.

Kaufman said she grew up with a standard poodle and has had several for the last couple decades, all obtained through rescue groups. Between her and her mother, Eileen Kaufman, they have six standard poodles.

In addition to the Poodle Palooza Extravaganza, a couple of other events are planned that weekend for poodles and their owners.

At 5:30 pm on June 4 a “Yappy Hour” and trivia night will be held at the Ed Brown Center for Active Adults in Rancho Bernardo Community Park. Tickets are $25, which includes appetizers, desserts and two drinks (beer, wine, soda or water). Kaufman said the cost is tax deductible.

On June 5 a gathering in Old Poway Park is planned for poodles and their owners, with a special train ride at 11 am Kaufman said dogs are not usually allowed on the train, but the poodles will be for this event.

For details on all activities or to purchase tickets, go to 4PawsOfLove.org or email PoodlePaloozaExtravaganza@gmail.com.

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