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Ox Cart Days hosts sixth annual K9 5K fundraiser

Following the 5K race, officers and their K9 partners will demonstrate agility exercises including the hurdles. (Photo by Tom Lindfors)

The Star Prairie Lions Club will once again be partnering with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s K9 unit on a fundraiser as part of their 2015 Ox Cart Days celebration.

The 5K run/walk will take place Thursday, Aug. 20, with registration opening at 4:30 p.m. at the bingo hall and the race starting at 5:30 p.m. Walk-up registration day of the event costs $25 per participant, children under 10 years are free. A limited number of event T-shirts and headbands will be available for purchase on race day. All proceeds benefit the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office K9 unit.

As many past participants will attest, the best part of the fundraiser takes place after the race. While race officials tabulate the winners, officers from the sheriff’s K9 unit and their K9 partners will stage a training demonstration at the ballpark.

K9 unit deputy Joshua Stenseth handles the logistics for the event, including everything from race course layout and T-shirt printing to who and what will be included during the K9 demonstration. But that doesn’t get done without the help of volunteers.

“I start laying out the course about 9 a.m. and by noon they have the bingo hall open for us. By the time the race starts we’re busy setting up the K9 demonstration. We get help from folks in the unit, my wife volunteers and we get help from another gal with the registration. After six years we’ve got it pretty down pat,” Stenseth said.

According to Stenseth, this year’s course starts at the ballpark and follows Jewell Street north toward Russell’s, turns right on Saratoga Avenue continues to 150th Street, turns right on 150th and goes half way out until turning around to double back along the same route back to the finish line at the ballpark.

Once the last racer crosses the finish line, it’s time for the K9’s to take center stage.

“The demonstration will include myself and Dex, deputy Justin Johnson and K9 Cash and our newest handler, deputy Ryan Fowler, and K9 Dugan. We assign the positions in our demonstrations very specifically so that people can see a dog in the beginning stages of training and then the final product as well,” Stenseth said.

The demonstration will showcase some of the skills officers and their K9 partners must master as a team to be an effective police unit.

“Usually we’ll bring the hurdles, the crawl and the broad jump to demonstrate agility and then we’ll also be demonstrating obedience using hand signals and commands. The demonstration will take place in the outfield at the ballpark,” explained Stenseth.

Stenseth knows the K9s are the main attraction so he makes sure folks have the opportunity to get up close and personal.

“We make sure to leave time at the end of the demonstration to answer questions and let folks meet and pet the dogs. This year I might bring a new headliner to the public demonstration, we’ll see. It might be one of the new additions,” said Stenseth.

Money raised from the event is used to pay for equipment, food, and extra vet care. The K9 program is funded 100 percent by grants and donations. It is not a line item in the county budget.

So lace up your sneakers and head over to the bingo hall Thursday evening to meet Josh and Dex and show your support for the county’s K9 unit.

For more information about the event, visit the sheriff’s office Facebook page at facebook.com/stcroixcountysheriff.

Also see articles on this year's musicgrand marshal and this parade and other events.

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