Sue Elsbernd of Calmar is one of Northeast Iowa to build an adoption center that will serve the counties of Howard, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Clayton and Fayette.  She is shown above with Ash, at left, whom she adopted, and Jack, who is currently up for adoption through the humane society.  He is a foster dog, living with Elsbernd.
Sue Elsbernd of Calmar is one of Northeast Iowa to build an adoption center that will serve the counties of Howard, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Clayton and Fayette. She is shown above with Ash, at left, whom she adopted, and Jack, who is currently up for adoption through the humane society. He is a foster dog, living with Elsbernd.
In 1969, a monumental music festival changed the world. More than half a million people came together - united in a message of peace, openness and cultural expression - and demonstrated how a generation could be heard. That was Woodstock.

On June 15, a group of animal advocates will come together in a common goal of bringing peace, love and safe homes to the animals of northeastern Iowa. That is Woofstock.

Kim Powell, president of the Humane Society of Northeast Iowa, explained that her organization helps an average of 300 animals find homes each year - working out of foster homes. The humane society serves the counties of Howard, Winneshiek, Allamakee, Clayton and Fayette.

Volunteer, dog foster mom and Woofstock organizer Sue Elsbernd explained the goal is to build an adoption center and no-kill shelter in the summer of 2015. A piece of land has already been donated for the project in the Freeport area near Decorah.

She said, "The closest adoption centers are in Mason City, Waterloo and Dubuque. We get so overwhelmed with animals that we have to send them to other shelters if we can't find foster families for them."

The fundraiser will be held in front of The M&M Lounge in Cresco, beginning with a "Paw-2-the-Pedal Poker Run" and a Woofy Walk. The street in front of the lounge will be closed for "one big street party," Elsbernd shared.

The Poker Run will leave from "The M" at 11 a.m. and take a route through all five counties served by the humane society before returning to the lounge for an afternoon and evening of fun events. To pre-register for the poker run, one may call (563)203-9268. "All hippies are welcome," Elsbernd said.

Elsbernd said the Woofy Walk, also set to begin at 11 a.m., is the time to come out and strut your mutt! "You have to walk your dog anyway, so come and join us," she added.

At 4:30 p.m. the information and food booths will open and the Woofstock t-shirts will go on sale. There will be free popcorn and cotton candy, but other picnic-style food will be available for purchase. Beth Einck will be doing obedience demonstrations, also beginning at 4:30.

Yappy Hour begins at 5 p.m., featuring "wooftinis" and the adoption fair will begin. Those attending the event will have the chance to meet some of the animals that are currently available for adoption. There will be lots of '60s music provided by a local deejay.

At 6 p.m. Thor, the Howard County K-9, will be making one of his first public appearances. His handler will be there to answer questions about how Thor helps protect the residents and assists the local law enforcement agencies with solving crimes.

There will also be a '60s-themed best dressed contest for pets and their owners as well as for individuals without pets. A most obedient contest will be held - for pets only!

"We are hoping a lot of people come out to this, dressed in '60s costumes," Elsbernd said.

The live music will begin at 7 with Absolute Hoot of Decorah. They will perform until 9, followed by Hitfaced at 9:30. They will play until 12:30 a.m.

Absolute Hoot will play music that will make one laugh out loud and Hitfaced provides a rowdier rock and roll set. There will also be a late-night '60s best-dressed contest and some "really stupid human tricks," Elsbernd added.

Through the entire day, raffle tickets for a Route 66-themed quilt will be sold. Elsbernd said there would be many humane society members walking around and selling them as well as showing off some of the animals that are currently available for adoption.

Fostering an animal

Elsbernd said she has fostered about 20 dogs over the past three years at her home in rural Calmar. She provides the dogs with needed love, a safe home and helps prepare them to transition into their new home when adopted.

All dogs and cats are spayed or neutered, have had their vaccinations and are wormed. Sometimes, special medical needs are required and Elsbernd said the humane society works with several great local clinics for medical care.

"The animals come to us in all shapes and sizes and in all conditions," she added. "The fosters do a lot of work with the animals so they are ready to go into homes."

Currently, Elsbernd is fostering Jack, a coonhound that thinks he's a lap dog. "He's a 90-pound couch potato," she said with a laugh. "He's a real gentleman - just a huge teddy bear."

Jack's information can be found on Petfinder.com, along with the listings of other animals available through the Humane Society of Northeast Iowa. Elsbernd has described him by saying, "Jack is a laid back kind of guy. He spends most of his time snoozing in the sunny part of our kitchen. He would do well in a home with other dogs, as long as he has a little time to say hello. He's totally house trained. Being a hound who likes to follow his nose, I think he will need to go to a home with a fenced in yard. He does well with adults and children of all ages, but due to his size and enthusiasm, he should go to a home with older children."

Jack and Elsbernd have been taking tracking classes through the Good Dog Center in Decorah, so Jack is a multi-talented dog!

Being a foster parent to these animals is a satisfying role for Elsbernd. She said it makes her feel good that she is making a difference in their lives. "Knowing that I am helping them and then seeing them go into a new home with a family that is going to love them, that's gratifying," she said.

Back to Woofstock

As for the upcoming fundraiser, Elsbernd said she wants a sunny day so that all the activities can continue to go on as planned. "All of it is going to be so much fun," she added. "I want it to be such a huge success for the humane society."

So plan to attend Woofstock in Cresco on Saturday, June 15, to enjoy a day of bringing peace, love and safe homes to the animals of northeastern Iowa. There will be fun for everyone and one can make a difference in the lives of area animals while enjoying a flashback to a time when peace, love and free-spirit reigned supreme.

To lend support

One may visit the Humane Society of Northeast Iowa's website at www.hsnei.org for more information or to find information on adopting a pet. If one cannot attend Woofstock in person and would like to support the efforts of the organization, one may also visit the website to make a donation. Information about their animals can also be found there.