FILE PHOTO — Sara Hill gives her dog Diamond a kiss for a treat as they compete in front of the judges table for the best trick category at the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society’s 20th annual Bark in the Park last year. Diamond has won the category two years in a row.
FILE PHOTO — Sara Hill gives her dog Diamond a kiss for a treat as they compete in front of the judges table for the best trick category at the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society’s 20th annual Bark in the Park last year. Diamond has won the category two years in a row.

Get ready, dog lovers for annual Bark in the Park

Published 12:06am Wednesday, September 4, 2013

NATCHEZ — In just a couple of weeks, the quiet green acreage of the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians will have gone to the dogs.

But it will be for a good cause, and the dogs’ human companions promise to clean up any mess they leave behind.

The 21st annual Bark in the Park, a fundraiser for the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society, will be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sept. 21 at the Grand Village.

As in past years, the event will include contests, raffles, concessions and T-shirt sales.

But beyond that, it’s a meeting of the doggie minds.

“It’s really a sort of meet-and-greet for the animals,” event organizer Deanne Tanksley said.

And like any good social event, there’s fun to be had for anyone who wants to join in, even the two-legged members of the dog family.

“All of the dogs get to go out and socialize with other dogs, and the people just enjoy bringing the dogs and spending the day with the dogs and friends,” NACHS President Kathy Fitch said. “It’s a beautiful place to be and people like to come out and support the humane society.”

Bark in the Park is the largest fundraising event for the NACHS, Fitch said.

“It really helps us keep the doors open, the animals fed, and it helps us provide for their medical care,” she said.

Some of the most highly anticipated parts of Bark in the Park are the contests, which include:

• Cutest puppy (6 weeks to four months)

• Most handsome male

• Most beautiful female

• Best owner look-alike

• Most talented

• Best dressed

• Best smile

• Best tail wag

• Mr. and Miss NACHS

All of the contests are subjective and up to the judges, Tanksley said, but some are definitely difficult to call from the perspective of an observer.

“For the best tail wag, sometimes you get these little dogs and half their body wiggles when you tell them to wag their tails,” she said.

Sometimes, the competition is fierce.

“For the most-talented competition a couple of years ago, we had one who the owner and the dog did a little dance, dancing together,” Tanksley said. “Sometimes it is speaking or doing things on command; some will sit, speak, shake and roll over.”

Other times, the competition may be a measure of an ineffable quality, a devotion to pets and owners borne only out of time spent together.

“With the look-alike contest, it is like they say about how old married couples start to look like each other after a while,” Tanksley said. “If you have had your pet for a while, they kind of take on your personality, and people think it is kind of neat to say, ‘My pet looks like me.’ A lot of people might not think too much of (saying they look like their pet), but a lot people think it is fun and wouldn’t be signing up for the contest if they thought otherwise.”

The only contests with qualifications are Mr. and Miss NACHS, which requires that the entrants have been adopted from the NACHS shelter.

Entry for each contest is $2 per dog.

But the event isn’t just for those animals who have a home. Several shelter residents who are eligible for adoption will also be at the event.

Tanksley said that while the animals will be available for adoption at Bark in the Park, before they can leave the shelter they will have to be spayed or neutered. After a couple of days, the dog will be ready for pickup and able to take ownership of its new family and home.

“Sometimes people don’t realize what all they need to have to adopt a dog, so that period usually gives the family they time they need to prepare,” Tanksley said.

For more information or to view adoptable pets, call 601-442-4001 or visit natchezpetadoptions.org.