Doggone fun and chili connoisseurs | VailDaily.com

Doggone fun and chili connoisseurs

J.K. Perry

Preston Utley/Vail DailyDog owner Yolanda Moore of Gypsum washes Sheeba Saturday during a fundraiser in Gypsum for abandoned dogs brought to the valley from New Orleans by the local Humane Society.

GYPSUM – Alaskan malamute Dakota got a hairdo straight out of the punk-rock scene on Saturday.”Let’s style it,” said a young girl cleaning the 110-pounds fur ball owned by Barry Moellenhoff.Young volunteers in the tub played with Dakota’s wet and soapy fur, spiking it in a mohawk the length of the dog’s back. The malamute appeared content getting scrubbed by many hands. The dog wash was a benefit at Big Dog Truck, Car and Dog Wash in Gypsum for dogs abandoned after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast region.

“We’ve seen a lot of benefits for people but hadn’t seen a lot for pets,” said owner Steve Sheldon. He and his wife are veterinarians.By 1 p.m. about 20 dogs were squeaky and primped, with about $200 raised. Donated money helps pay for the medical and housing needs of 24 Gulf Coast dogs brought to the valley by the local Humane Society.”Its a good mellow fundraiser and the dogs are fun,” Sheldon said.Sheldon’s son Joseph, a budding wide-receiver, manned the cookie and lemonade stand between sessions of tossing and catching a football.”Washing dogs for charity is a good use of time,” the 8-year-old said.Lilly, a blue heeler owned by Wendy Parker, normally bathes in irrigation ditches. On this day, the 1-year-old dog’s brown and black hair shined in the bright sun.

“It was her first wash ever,” Parker said. “She tried to bite the hairdryer.”The car wash’s unique dog wash house – complete with air conditioning, heat, wash tub, oatmeal shampoo and conditioner – smelled of wet dog as Sheeba got washed by owner Yolanda Moore.Volunteer Amy Davel helped clean Sheeba, who looked on with her tongue out, not quite sure about the many hands rubbing her down.The chili cook-offStudents at Red Canyon High School organized the Saturday chili cook-off and silent auction in Eagle to benefit the Red Cross. Participants got a bowl and a vote for their favorite chili. “I felt kind of bad,” student Katrina Cooper said about the hurricane’s aftermath. “That would really suck to be me.”Cooper made phone calls to area businesses to request items for the silent auction. She said her name helped get donations and said it was “good karma.”

“When I was getting the donations, they’d ask my name and I’d say ‘Katrina’ and they’d say ‘No really, what’s your name?’ and I’d say ‘Do you want to see my ID?’ ” the 17-year-old said.Donations trickled in slowly as taste-testers milled about the Eagle Pavilion, chili bowls in hand.”It’s fun being out with people, watching them sample the chili,” said Lori Cuno, whose chili struck a taste chord with many of the voters. Cuno’s son is a freshman at Red Canyon.In the end, more than $2,000 was raised by the students, who hoped to raise $2,500. More money is expected as payment for silent auction items rolls in, said Red Canyon teacher Steve Nimcheski.”It’s a great to live in a community where people are so willing to turnout,” Nimcheski said. “I’m especially happy with the business community’s willingness to donate. I don’t think anybody said no,”Donated items for the silent auction included a bowling ball, framed mountain photograph, wine and loads of gift certificates.

Tonya Farmer called the benefit “awesome.” She said voting for one of her two favorite chili recipes was tough. But the chili connoisseur was in her element.”This is one of my favorite meals,” Farmer said.Some recipes were heavy on the beans, including winner Charlie Cooper’s Category 4 chili. You wouldn’t want these chili loaded people under the same roof the next day, many agreed.”Not without some beer to balance out the pH balance of their stomachs,” Nimcheski said.Staff Writer J.K. Perry can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 450, or jkperry@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado