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In Somerville, a world record attempt — for brushing dogs’ teeth

Somerville Dog Festival organizers hope to see canine dental hygiene on a record-setting scale Saturday at Trum Field.David L. Ryan/Globe Staff/File

Organizers of the annual Somerville Dog Festival are asking people to throw them a bone this weekend and help them fetch the Guinness World Record for “most people brushing dogs’ teeth simultaneously.”

The current champ is Link Management Ltd. in Hong Kong, according to the Guinness World Records website.

The mark was set in December 2012, when 268 people brushed the teeth of their four-legged companions all at once. The event was held to support the charity Hong Kong Dog Rescue, Guinness states.

But on Sunday, festival organizer Adam Parker is hoping to bring the title to the Bay State.

Parker, a Somerville veterinarian and president of the Somerville Foundation for Animals, the nonprofit that hosts the annual festival, is determined to get enough dogs to Trum Field to break the current record by a clear margin.


“I’m prepared for up to 400 dogs,” Parker said. “This is our first try at it, so hopefully it will go well.”

The free festival , which got its start in 2010, is designed to promote healthy lifestyles for pets, so the attempt to set the record for clean-toothed canines goes hand-in-paw with the organizers’ overall message.

Proceeds raised by the animal foundation at the festival, through sponsorships and onsite vendors, are distributed to animal charities and organizations statewide.

For the record-breaking attempt, Parker said, organizers will hand out tubes of meat-flavored toothpaste and special toothbrushes to registered participants. Each dog owner will have to clean his or her pet’s teeth for a full three minutes, which will make for a vivid, if not historic, moment.

The festival will take place at Broadway and Cedar Street, rain or shine.

Somerville spokeswoman Denise Taylor said the city would be proud to advance the cause of canine dental hygiene. “But does it also mean we’ll get the record for consuming the most chicken-flavored toothpaste?” she quipped.

The rules for breaking a Guinness World Record are strict, so everything needs to go swimmingly.

According to Parker, dog owners must register their names, and their pets, as proof of their existence. Then the dogs and their owners will be placed in designated sections of 50 participants each so that the groups can be carefully monitored as part of the visual documentation process.


Video and photographic evidence of the tooth-brushing bonanza will be required.

Puppies are not allowed to participate in the challenge, according Guinness guidelines, which state that dogs have to be at least a year old to be eligible for the event.

Once the evidence is received, it takes 12 weeks for Guinness officials to review it before making a ruling on the success or failure of an attempt.

“It’s a very specific step-by-step process,” Parker said. “It’s an interesting set of guidelines, but I understand.”

Demanding regulations aside, Parker said, he believes the goal is within reach.

“We have a pretty good shot at it,” he said, noting that the festival attracts more than 2,000 spectators each year.

“It’s been three years since the record was set, so we will give it a good shot.”

Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.