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‘Dog Days’ of Summer at Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum in Elm Grove

File Photo by Scott McCloskey The Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum will hold its first Dog Days of Summer event this weekend.

WHEELING — The Kruger Street Toy and Train Museum is expanding its customer base with an event this weekend, now seeking to involve man’s best friend in their fun.

The inaugural Dog Days of Summer event will be held from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. this weekend, with several activities planned to accommodate the furry friends who are welcome. The front lawn of the museum will have numerous tents set up to provide shade, as well as a kiddie pool, while dogs will be welcomed inside — one family to a room at a time — to check out the museum with their families.

The event will include an agility demonstration by Jill Robbins and Piper, photos on the caboose at 12:30 p.m., scene work demonstration — a “paws-on” activity — and trick demonstrations on Saturday, while Sunday will feature a Blessing of the Animals by pastor Paul Shafer of the St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, and a costume contest at 1:30 p.m.

Manager Lynn Maguire said the museum had seen people bring their dogs to meet Santa and the Easter Bunny at prior holiday events, which led to the decision to involve the pets in more activities at the museum.

“We just realized how many people love the museum and love the dogs, and we wanted to do something for the pet owners,” Maguire said. “… It’s kind of a very special thing so that people can experience the museum with their pets.”

The cost of admission to the event is a donation of the humans’ choice to Webark Estates.

“We just want to give a little bit back and do something a little fun for our furry friends here,” Maguire said.

The precautions to prepare the museum for the event, Maguire said, were more-or-less identical to the COVID-19 protocols they had in place, limiting dogs to one per room at a time, and visitors are asked to follow a map to guide them through the museum. The museum’s resident cat, Loo, will be taking the day off to avoid a stressful work environment.

“Loo is not going to be okay with this, and it’s going to be a shock to his system,” she joked. “… This will have to be similar (to COVID protocols) where we’ll have to maintain only one family, one dog, per room, and as they move, they move on like that. It wasn’t really anything huge we had to do.

“Most of the precautions came outside, making sure we have shade, because we lost our tree this week. We had to do a lot of things like making sure we had clean access to water, things like that. … I think it was all positive. It wasn’t a huge change for us.”

Robbins, who will be holding the demonstrations, is a friend of the museum who volunteered her time for the Dog Days event. Maguire said Robbins performs at local farmers’ markets and other events which welcome canine performers.

Maguire hopes to bring the Dog Days back next summer, making it into another summer tradition for Wheeling.

“I think it’s something we need to do. We’re all really excited about it; we’re all animal lovers here.”

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