‘A day for the dogs’

Hike on the Dike, All Paws on Deck fundraising events set for Sept. 23

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Washougal Police Chief Wendi Steinbronn walks her dog during the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society's Hike on the Dike fundraising event in June 2022. (Contributed photo courtesy Peggy DiPrima)

The West Columbia Gorge Humane Society (WCGHS) and Camas High School students have joined forces to make Saturday, Sept. 23, “a day for the dogs.”

The Washougal animal shelter and Camas High DECA club will hold their annual pet-themed fundraising events on the same day this year.

“(People can) run Hike on the Dike in the morning, then move straight on to the street fair,” said WCGHS Development Director Peggy DiPrima. “It gives both Camas and Washougal an opportunity to come together to support a local charity. Camas and Washougal, even though they share a port, do not have any events currently that are sponsored by both cities and go across both cities. This is a major opportunity to have a great event that encompasses participation of both cities.”

WCGHS’ Hike on the Dike will be held from 9 to 11:30 a.m. Sept. 23, on the Washougal riverfront dike, and the CHS DECA club’s All Paws on Deck street fair will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sept. 23, in downtown Camas.

The All Paws on Deck event launched in 2019 to raise money for the WCGHS and the Vancouver-based Humane Society of Southwest Washington (HSSW).

“WCGHS was extremely supportive of the event and attended it every year, and so last year we decided to fundraise just for them, as they are a smaller shelter that does not have the fundraising opportunities that HSSW does,” Camas High DECA adviser Suzie Downs said.

The Camas High students raised $10,000 for WCGHS in 2022.

“After our event, they approached us as they had to move Hike on the Dike (to a different time of year) and wanted to partner,” Downs said. “After discussing it, we thought it was a good idea and allowed my students to work closer with the non-profit organization.”

DiPrima said the partnership could benefit both groups.

“If this works for both of us, if it works out the way we are hoping it will work out, where it drives more participation in both events, the DECA kids will be successful, all the proceeds for both events go to WCGHS, and it’ll be great for our constituents as well because (it should be a) fun day,” she said.

Downs agreed.

“All Paws on Deck has become a recognized event with our community, and WCGHS also has a connection with the community,” she said. “We felt that by giving families options, we would create a ‘day for the dogs.’ This is our first time doing this, so we hope it is a great success.”

WCGHS leaders hope that by moving their event from June to September, they can avoid weather-related issues that caused problems in previous years.

“We were struggling against rain and lack of participation when we were having it at the beginning of June — we were hitting up against graduation, the end of school, things like that,” DePrima said. “So we moved it to the end of June for a couple of years, and we just had some very serious heat. One year, we had to postpone it to July, and it was still hot that day. And then last year, we had to move the start time and finish time up because it was so hot that day.

“We’re going to see if it’s as successful as it was in the spring, if this time of year winds up working out for people. We’re just kind of trying it. Instead of the first fun thing of summer, maybe it’s the last fun thing of summer.”

Hike on the Dike participants will start their walk at the WCGHS shelter, where they will also enjoy a live disc jockey, a raffle, a K-9 demonstration, a “dog zone,” rock painting, merchandise sales, a dog-kissing booth, and more.

Participants can register for the event for $15 or directly donate to the WCGHS by visiting

The event had raised $26,183 as of Monday, Sept. 11, more than halfway to its goal of $50,000. It raised “just over” $50,000” in 2022, according to DiPrima.

“That was an amazing year. It was a record year for us, but due to inflation — and that’s what we feel is going on right now — across the board for humane societies and animal welfare in general, donations are down, adoptions are down, and people are just feeling the economy,” she added. “We have high hopes that this event will pull through to help us offset some of that.”

The All Paws on Deck event will feature “Dog Mayor for the Day” and “doggie costume” contests, a dog agility course, food and crafts.

Camas DECA students invited local residents to enter their dogs into this year’s “Dog Mayor” competition in August, and selected 12 finalists. People who make a financial donation can vote for their favorite canine mayoral candidate Sept. 15-22. To vote for the “dog mayor” or sign up as a vendor, visit Organizers have set a goal to raise $12,000.

“We are looking at creating an All Paws on Deck dog calendar and doing a month for each finalist and selling calendars as another way to raise money,” Downs said. “We’re still working out the details — this may take place after the event.”

“This community service project is twofold,” Downs added. “It is a great cause that allows me to work with our DECA chapter to give back to our community. The street fair has been so much fun for families and their pets. The other thing this project does is teach my students the importance of service. We get the majority of our DECA chapter to help put on events, which really helps our chapter bond right from the start of the year.”

The day will also feature “yappy hour” specials offered by Camas-Washougal businesses.

“We do that every year after Hike on the Dike, but this year it’ll be super fun because it’ll be an opportunity for you to really carry it through all day if you want to,” DiPrima said.

Law enforcement officers and their "K-9" partners demonstrate techniques at the June 2022 Hike on the Dike fundraising event in Washougal.
Law enforcement officers and their "K-9" partners demonstrate techniques at the June 2022 Hike on the Dike fundraising event in Washougal. (Contributed photo courtesy of Peggy DiPrima) Photo