Thursday, April 26, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 8

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on August 20th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 24 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 15, Issue 24

Hobnobbing With Helen


Here’s the lowdown on the hoedown: It was hobnobbing with the hounds, and it was a hoot and a half. 

Altrusan Betty Baxter (left) chats with Jill Tucker before the beginning of Hoedown with the Hounds held Aug. 9 at the Veterans Memorial Community Center in Santa Maria. Baxter was in charge of the event, and Tucker is the executive director of the Santa Maria Humane Society.

Santa Maria’s celebrity canine, Targa, the Santa Maria Police Department’s new K-9 Unit police dog, made a guest appearance with her handler, Officer Steve Flick and Sgt. Duane Schneider

The handsome black shepherd—trained in Germany—knows his stuff. Watch out, perps! Targa’s got your number. 

Members of the audience (about 150) pelted Flick with questions about his new sidekick, who, by the way, does not pack heat. 

Nighttime Altrusa organized and hosted the Hoedown with the Hounds event to benefit the Santa Maria Valley Humane Society (SMVHS). It was held on Aug. 9 at the Veterans Memorial Community Center. 

“Altrusa has been amazing,” SMVHS Executive Director Jill Tucker told me. “They pulled all this together,” she said with a wave of her arm, “with very little help from us.” 

This was, of course, your standard nonprofit dinner and auction event, but with some added kicks and pizzazz. 

After dinner about a dozen local canines said, “Ah, shucks, do I have to?” to their owners and paraded down a runway, some in costumes. 

A black greyhound named Elvis, because he had a broken pelvis, was a pup dressed as Elvis Presley (but he lost his wig coming up the steps). Now, does his owner have a sense of humor or what? 

The fluffiest little dog west of the Mississippi was dressed as Annie Oakley, her red Western kerchief skirt obviously made lovingly by owner Wanda McDonald

´╗┐Altrusa member Sandy Miller comes off the stage on Aug. 9 at the Vets Memorial Center, where she welcomed the 150 guests on behalf of nighttime Altrusa and the Humane Society.

Most of the dogs on the runway were with their owners, but several were from the Humane Society kennels and are looking for homes. 

One interesting fellow in search of new digs is Ernest, a bluetick coonhound who bayed occasionally, accompanying the singer, as hound dogs are wont to do. Ernest is new to the Humane Society. According to the volunteer coordinator and dog behaviorist at the Humane Society, Seth Hutson, “Someone cared enough about this dog to train him well.” 

Is there a bluetick coonhound in your future? 

More about the dog show: Talk about unusual entertainment—two talented labradoodles literally jumped through hoops. How long has it been since you have seen that? 

Ribbons were given to the dogs with the longest tail, the shortest tail, and the cutest costumes. There was also a ribbon for the dog that won in the “I’m just too cute” and “best kisser” categories. 

Betty Baxter is the Altrusa dynamo in charge of this amusing and fun party. Her co-chair was Tammy Fournier. Other Altrusans on hand were Sandy Miller, Isa Ponce-Jimenez, and Diane Aleman-Stevens

Dan and Peggy Blough, and Dale and Debbi Johnson were among the crowd, as were Vonnie and Richard Stewart and Richard and Barbara Giachetto

Jody Venema, Bunny Maxim, Wanda McDonald, and Jim Hopkins shared a table. 

Wanda McDonald (left) and Bunny Maxim fuss with Annie to get her ready for the Humane Society show on Aug. 9 at the vets hall.

Dinner was catered by American Legion Post 56, which is quartered in the vets hall and also sponsored a no-host bar. 

Bon appetit! Dinner was tri-tip (or vegetarian) with beans, salad, garlic bread, and yummy, creamy cheesecake. 

Claire Sheehy, president of the SMVHS board, emceed the program, along with Marji Hernandez

Claire told us that the judges were hard pressed to pick winners and that there was often just a hundredth of a point separating first place from runner up.

If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at

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