All treats, no tricks: Costumed dogs took over Big Grove for Wag-O-Ween event

The Big Grove Brewery was filled with games, animals lovers and costumed pets, collaborating with Last Hope Animal Rescue to connect people while raising funds.


A dog displays Halloween spirit at Wag-O-Ween. Wag-O-Ween was hosted by Last Hope Animal Rescue and was held at Big Grove Brewery on Sunday, October 20, 2019. (Nichole Harris/The Daily Iowan)

Austin J. Yerington, Arts Reporter

On Sunday, the sounds of scratching paws, playful barks, and audible ‘aww’s’ were abundant while attending Wag-O-Ween, a public event organized by Big Grove Brewery and Taproom and Last Hope Animal Rescue.

Last Hope Animal Rescue is a Cedar Rapids-based organization that started back in 2004. According to their website, the nonprofit has helped countless rehabilitated pets by finding them forever homes in the eastern Iowa area.

Thomas Phan and his dog Jake pose for a photo in their joint Oscar the Grouch costume at Wag-O-Ween. Wag-O-Ween was hosted by Last Hope Animal Rescue and was held at Big Grove Brewery on Sunday, October 20, 2019. (Nichole Harris/The Daily Iowan)

Werewolves, Wonder Women, and Oscar the Grouch were just a few of the costumes dogs donned this past Sunday. The event hosted over 100 dogs, dog owners, and children for an afternoon of carnival games, animal balloons, and a bouncy house. A costume contest closed out the fundraiser.

This event is in its second year at the local brewery. Big Grove has hosted many animal-friendly events, such as Doggie Christmas Party and Barks and Brews, with many of them set for all ages.

“We worked with them last year, and they have this great space out here. It’s a great atmosphere,” said Crystal McGuire, the Last Hope Rescue Cat Program’s coordinator.

The event brings out many Iowa City and Coralville residents, but pet-owners from further counties also made the drive to participate in the event, such as Cheryl Schroeder from Lowden, Iowa and her dog, Mollie.

“It’s just such a good cause,” Schroeder said. “We try and do something on the weekends with [Mollie] and this was a perfect event for her. Since our children are all grown, having a dog takes a different [role] … it used to be just a dog and it’s not anymore.”

The event brings not just funds for the rescue shelter but also helps raise awareness for the rescue, McGuire said.

“The dogs at our shelter are usually going through behavioral training or medical treatment so they’re not necessarily available for adoption yet,” McGuire said. “But we have a lot in foster homes that are, we probably have 150-ish cats and 75 dogs. We have fosters from the Iowa City area to Waterloo.”

These foster homes house pets for a certain amount of time, helping them acclimate to home living and with the end goal of adoption.

Mandy Duffey, member of Last Hope Rescue, has fostered three dogs now, with the recent one being a ‘foster failure’, as she puts it, due to Duffey adopting the dog herself.

“I was like ‘I have a dog already, I don’t want another dog, but maybe I can help out’,” Duffey said. “I successfully fostered many dogs, and I loved them all and I found them great places and the last one just decided we were his, and the rest is history.”

The event brought some Halloween fun for all ages and walks of life, with a prize being awarded at the end, and with all proceeds going to Last Hope Animal Rescue.

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