Go ahead, be a party animal this weekend — it's all for a great cause.
In Safety Harbor, a three-day Oktoberfest begins this afternoon and continues through Sunday with oompah and pop bands, German food and beer.
Saturday brings a special Dogtoberfest with madcap wiener dog races, doggie dashes, puppy picnics and a canine costume contest.
On Sunday, head over to Clearwater for the Upper Suncoast Dog Training Club's Open House. There are more wieners (the edible kind), dancing dogs, agility demos, a doggie costume contest and more. The open house celebrates the 45th anniversary of the nonprofit club.
Both events benefit homeless animals.
So here's, pardon the pun, the scoop:
A bit of Bavaria comes to the Safety Harbor Marina today beginning at 4 p.m. as the city and the Suncoast Animal League pair up for their first joint three-day Oktoberfest celebration.
"It's our biggest undertaking yet," said Rick Chaboudy, the animal shelter's co-founder and executive director. Proceeds from the event will benefit the 3-year-old shelter in Palm Harbor.
Besides the typical costs associated with running a shelter, the league incurred $38,000 in veterinarian bills when it confiscated about 120 dogs from an East Lake woman in 2008.
"This should go a long way in helping to pay the vets back," Chaboudy said.
Festivalgoers will enjoy German specialty foods and ice cold beer, along with live entertainment by a mix of German and American bands. There will be arts and crafts vendors and a children's play area as well.
At 6 p.m. today, the official opening ceremony, the "Tapping of the Keg," will take place with a German shepherd and a Dachshund donning Oktoberfest kegs around their necks.
Saturday is Dogtoberfest, when plenty of canine-centric activities take place within the Oktoberfest setting:
• Blessing of the Animals, 10 a.m.
• Puppy picnic with doggie burgers and ice cream (donation), noon .
• Doggie Costume Contest (free), 1 p.m.
• All-breed Doggie Dashes ($5 per entry), 2 p.m.
• "Running of the Wieners" ($5 per entry), 4 p.m.
• Home Brew competition, winners announced at 7 p.m.
• Beer Stein Relay, 8 p.m.
Be sure to stop by the pup art tent for some washable paint fun. Check out the pet vendors and rescue groups, too.
For the "Running of the Wieners," cheer as dachshunds, those elongated breeds with tiny legs, are coaxed to the finish line.
"We had them last year in Palm Harbor and it was a great time for everybody," Chaboudy said. "It's lots of laughs because some will run to the finish line, some won't start and some run to the finish line and turn around and go back. It's absolutely hilarious."
In the Beer Stein Relay, teams of four (humans), with beer steins around their necks and their hands tied behind their backs, maneuver through an obstacle course.
"They are judged by their time and amount of beer spilled," Chaboudy said.
Dog training club's open house
Alice Poppler, 80, joined the Upper Suncoast Dog Training Club more than 20 years ago and is still teaching classes and training three dogs there.
"It's a great place to take your dogs and meet people," the Clearwater resident said.
For 45 years, the nonprofit club has brought dog owners and their furry friends together to train, laugh and to go on to trials, if so desired.
Though they've moved to several facilities through the years, today's members enjoy classes in an air-conditioned facility on Logan Street that is well lighted and fully matted. It includes a variety of training equipment with a myriad of classes in obedience, agility and confirmation.
Spokeswoman Robynn Modder said therapy and canine freestyle classes are being added.
"Freestyle is basically dancing with your dogs," she said.
On Sunday, the club swings open its doors between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. to the dog-loving public and their pooches with demonstrations in obedience, agility and canine freestyle.
Dunedin Doggie Rescue and several breed rescue groups will be in attendance with adoptable dogs on site. The club will offer a 50 percent discount on the first set of classes for any application submitted that day resulting in a completed adoption.
Fundraising efforts will include a large selection of raffle items, $2 hot dogs and $5 nail trims; proceeds will benefit the participating rescue groups.
Take part in a "doggie trick or treat," doggie games or by entering the canine costume contest.
"We've had some great costumes in the past," Modder said. "There was a really neat astronaut with a helmet, a chihuahua dressed as a burro, and a pit bull as a pimp."
Vendors also will be on hand offering many pet-related goods and services.
"We invite the community to come out and see what we're all about," Modder said. "I think they'll be amazed to see what our four-legged friends are capable of with the right training. It will be a great outing for the whole family."