Tahoe City’s River Ranch went to the Dogs during the Truckee Duckee Derbee

Amy Edgett
Sierra Sun
Jonny Justice, a victim of Michael Vick's Bad Newz Dog Kennel, was a Pet of Honor at the Truckee Duckee Derby and signed Vick's Dogs editions of 'Sport Illustrated.'

The River Ranch Lodge and Restaurant opened its riverside patio to the dogs Sunday, June 7 during the Sixth annual Truckee Duckee Derby (TDD) and Dogs in Duds contest.

In attendance were more than 250 festive Derbee goers, 24 contestants for the Dogs in Duds contest and BADRAP (Bay Area Dog Lovers Responsible About Pit Bulls) representatives with Uba and Jonny Justice, two pit bulls rescued from Michael Vick Bad Newz Kennels.

and#8220;This was a poignant addition to the whole thing,and#8221; said event promoter Bill Jensen of Granite Chief Communications. and#8220;The whole thing is all good and fun, but there are serious undertones. These dogs are the epitome of the worst case scenario.and#8221;

The Truckee Duckee Derby benefits the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe (HSTT), which has seen an increase in relinquishments recently due to financial challenges and foreclosures.

Jensen, an animal lover at heart, says the event was by far the biggest yet, with 200 ducks sold to raise awareness and money for HSTT. Raffle items included Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows lift tickets, River Ranch dinners and the grand prize, a GIANT bike purchased through West Shore sports with a $300 donation from the Kiwanis Club. and#8220;It’s amazing in this economy how generous people are,and#8221; Jensen said.

The party got rolling with crowd-pleasing Darin Talbot, local Tahoe bard, until the parade of costumed pooches commenced. and#8220;These two events are so compatible,and#8221; according to Jensen. and#8220;It made the TDD bigger and better than ever.and#8221;

The line-up included a Hot Dog, a Girlie-Girl Dog, a Sailor Dog, Dogs as our Co-pilots and a recently adopted Hula Dog. The big dog turned out to be Colleen and Mark Monrean’s Coco, sporting a Stearns life vest lavishly embellished with an array of decorative duckies. Mark Monrean, jokingly referred to by Jensen as the and#8220;Luckiest Man in Tahoeand#8221; played Duck Herder, complete with duck-topped staff, yellow bib slicker pants and duck-adorned hard hat.

Then it was off to the races, the moment tense before the and#8220;most exciting two minutes in Tahoe,” when the bucket of duckees is dumped into the Truckee River in a race to the finish. Tahoe Paddle Boards and a support kayak awaited the competition as the sharky “Jaws” theme notched up the excitement. The first duck to navigate through the winner’s gate was Sherina Kreul’s, branch manager at Tahoe City’s Bank of the West, for a $250 cash prize. Second and third place monies were $200 and $150, respectively.

Raffle prizes included and#8220;signedand#8221; editions of the 2008 and#8220;Sports Illustratedand#8221; which featured pit bull Sweet Jasmine and the Vick’s Dogs article. Uba and Jonny Justice put paw on paper with handlers Letti de Little and Jamel Freeman’s guidance. and#8220;I saw the article in and#8216;Sports Illustrated’ and realized BADRAP was in the Bay Area,and#8221; said Jensen. Jensen felt they were a natural fit. He contacted them and made lodging arrangements with Alvina Patterson, owner of the Tahoe House, a lakefront, pet-friendly accommodation in Tahoe Vista. Stephanie Heimstra, executive director of HSTT gave Uba and Johnny, the first ever Pets of Honor, a goodie bag donated by Tails by the Lake.

The raffle geared up to the GIANT bicycle Grand Prize, with a ginormous good-feeling finale. Mark Monrean, who won the Derbee’s bike last year had the winning ticket once again. and#8220;Is this guy not the Luckiest Man in Tahoe?and#8221; quipped Jensen. Then, in an extreme act of generosity, Monrean turned around and donated the bike for auction, going highest bidder Kent Young, a $400 addition to funds raised. All told, the Truckee Duckee Derbee raised more than $1,800 for the HSTT. and#8220;The army of HSTT volunteers makes this event happen,and#8221; said Jensen.

For information about the HSTT, visit or call 587-5948.

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