Dogs get their day

Actor Jon Provost starred as Timmy Martin in the original "Lassie" series.

National Dog Day Aug. 26 at Calamigos Ranch spotlights dogs in need. Actors Jon Provost, Lise Simms and Craig Anton will make special appearances, as well as Laddie, the 9th generation Lassie, along with famed Hollywood dog trainer Bob Weatherwax.

By Vicky Shere / Special to the Malibu Times

As is often the case, great deeds can arise from tragic events.

This was true for Colleen Paige.

In the midst of a budding music career at age 18, Paige suffered devastating injuries in an automobile accident. A German shepherd named Spike, given to her by a friend, became Paige’s faithful companion and, by having her walk, speeded her recovery.

Paige was not aware of the dog’s unprovoked aggression, however, until he attacked a dog in her apartment garage.

She was forced to find a new home for Spike without realizing that he was about to live a miserable life with an abusive family. Paige was unable to rescue him and Spike spent his last days under the most horrid conditions.

Vowing to prevent this from happening to another dog, Paige, the daughter of actors Robert Paige and JoAnne Ludden, became an animal behaviorist and author, and created the annual holiday fundraising event called National Dog Day.

On Aug. 26, Paige’s animal advocacy nonprofit, Animal Miracle Foundation, will host its third national dog holiday, giving back to man’s best friend.

By combining an adoption fair, dog show, educational exhibits, concerts, day in the sun filled with barbeque, family activities, film and television stars-followed by a “VIP Celebrity After Party”- at Malibu’s Calamigos Ranch, AMF will publicize the plight of dogs in shelters.

National Dog Day helps “galvanize the public to recognize not only the number of dogs that need to be rescued each year but to also acknowledge the dogs that work selflessly each day to save lives, keep us safe and bring us comfort,” Paige explained.

Last year, the nonprofit, through 300 events nationwide, saved 12,000 dogs. Its goal for this year is 15,000 adoptions.

Actors, activities and music

The Dog Day will feature special appearances by guest of honor, actor Jon Provost, who starred as Timmy Martin in the original “Lassie” series, and Laddie, the 9th generation Lassie, accompanied by famed Hollywood dog trainer Bob Weatherwax. Actors Lise Simms and Craig Anton-better known as Barbara and Lloyd, Phil’s mom and dad on Disney Channel’s “Phil of the Future”-will also make an appearance.

Paige will be available to sign her manual “The Good Behavior Book for Dogs.”

In addition to the appearances, a $35 ticket provides activities such as a Ferris wheel, paddle boating, swimming pool, face painting, balloon animals, water slide, basketball, volleyball, carousel and ping pong, plus all-you-can eat menus and unlimited soft drinks. Children 3 and under are free.

Dogs on a leash are invited, too and can participate in the Doggie Daycare Water Park for just $10 a dog.

There will also be a FidoPalooza concert, featuring singer/songwriter Stacy Clark and musical groups Die Midwestern and Calling Wendy; a shelter dog parade, dog shows; educational exhibits, and an art auction featuring the works of Dean Russo.

Proceeds benefit PAWS/L.A., whose programs keep disenfranchised people and their animals together.

“We want disabled and low-income people to keep their animals in their time of need,” said Pamela Magette, the group’s executive director.

Diving legend Greg Louganis, actress Wendy Malick and artist/sculptor Brad Howe are among the organization’s Malibu supporters, Magette adds.

Enthusiastic participants

Five hundred dogs from area shelters and animal rescue organizations will be on parade, according to the event’s Web site.

The City of Los Angeles will bring dogs from its six shelters, and Los Angeles County’s Agoura animal shelter, Los Angeles’ nonprofit The Bark Avenue Foundation and Santa Clarita’s New Leash on Life will their bring pooches as well.

Actress Simms, whose “Air Bud” sequel “Snowbuddies” is expected in theaters in spring, was the catalyst for getting fellow cast member Anton involved and hopes to rope in others from the Disney hit show.

“I’m very happy to help dogs find happy homes,” Simms, who grew up with dogs, said. “Adopted animals know they have been saved and are more loyal than usual, if such a thing is possible.”

Guest of honor Provost, who has received numerous humanitarian and film awards and who was a major sponsor of last year’s Dog Day event, calls the event a “fantastic day.”

Future projects

Hoping to capitalize on the success of its National Dog Days, AMF is planning other pet honors for next year-National Horse Protection Day March 1, National Puppy Day March 23, National Disabled Pets Day, May 3, National Wildlife Day Sept. 4 and National Mutt Day Dec. 2.

The three-year-old nonprofit also wants to create an animal sanctuary on the Monterey coast of California.