This is the time of year that many Tri-Valley residents attend the Valley Humane Society's Hidden Gardens of the Valley fundraiser to tour the private backyards of 10 Pleasanton homes to enjoy the delights of beautifully landscaped gardens and yards.

But this year the tour has been canceled. And for a good reason.

"With the current drought situation, this year we felt it would be irresponsible to promote a fundraiser that requires participating gardeners to excessively water their yards in the many weeks leading up to the event," said Melanie Sadek, the group's executive director.

Though this decision will create a budget shortfall of more than $10,000 for Valley Humane Society, the institution feels a strong commitment to social responsibility. The Hidden Gardens of the Valley tour has been an ongoing fundraiser for the animal welfare organization since 2006, raising more than $100,000 since it began.

"This was a tough decision," Sadek said, "but we know it's the most responsible decision for the communities we serve. We're hopeful we can make up this lost revenue in other ways."

Anyone who would like to help reduce the impact of the event cancellation is invited to donate online. Click on the "Events" tab and then "Garden Tour" at Donations may also be made in person at the adoption center located at 3670 Nevada St. in Pleasanton.

Donors who contribute at least $25 toward offsetting the garden tour cancellation will receive one complementary copy of the 2014 Wine Country Critters calendar (while supplies last) and be entered in a drawing for a $100 Petco gift card. The drawing will take place on or near May 15.

If you're interested in touring the adoption facility, tour hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The phone number is 925-426-8656.

race results: Last month I wrote that my wife and I signed up for a half-marathon. The race raised funds for our local schools, sponsored by Pleasanton Partnerships in Education Foundation.

In a minute I'll tell you how much was raised, but first, I know you're wondering if I actually finished all 13 miles. And if you're not wondering, let's pretend you are.

OK, so yes, I did finish, and my time was less than two hours, which is above average for most 57-year-olds. But what's really cool is that my lovely wife also came in under two hours and took third place in her age group, which means she got a special award winner medal.

Now for the really cool part: the 5K race and half-marathon drew 2,751 runners who raised some $80,000 for Pleasanton schools. There were about 1,000 runners more than last year.

Many people worked many hours to make the race happen, but a special shout-out goes to Kelly French, Bryan Gillette, all the volunteers and the Pleasanton Police Department, without whom the race could never have been such a success.

Contact Jim Ott at