Pooches strut their stuff

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 25, 1999

A perky, blonde, long-haired dog saunters around the edge of the park with her perky, blonde, long-haired owner.

The owner of two enthusiastic white poodles stops to chat with a Humane Society volunteer, while a child standing nearby tries to keep hold of a leash attached to a pooch bigger than she is.

And all the time, dog owners and their pets – some are overheard calling the dogs &uot;their children&uot; – parade around the park’s pavilion, putting on a show for the judges.

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Welcome to the seventh-annual Bark in the Park, a fund raiser for the Natchez-Adams County Humane Society. The event, held Saturday at the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians, gave dogs and their owners an opportunity to visit with each other and gave pooches a chance to win trophies in 10 categories.

One of the smallest dogs – an eight-week-old rat terrier named Travel – was one of the biggest winners.

&uot;He got that name because his mama used to carry him around all the time,&uot;&160;said owner Sharon Hunt of Natchez.

On Saturday, he earned that name by trying to toddle out of the ring several times during judging. But in the end, the tiny black-and-white dog softened judges’ hearts and walked away with the cutest puppy award.

After just watching the contest for two years, Joni Robinson of Natchez entered Taco, a mini-Doberman she has owned for only two months, in the contest. And despite a short bark she directed at Pebbles – an Australian shepherd also owned by Robinson – after the contest, Taco did win second place in the friendliest dog category.

Actually, Robinson gave a thumbs-up to all dogs at the event for being obedient and friendly. &uot;With as many dogs as were here today, it’s a wonder they don’t get into a fight,&uot;&160;she said.

For Robin Pennington, the event was a chance to put her son’s old Halloween costume to good use, and that also paid off. Charlie, her cocker spaniel, won second place in the costume category for dressing like a hot dog, complete with bun.

&uot;I love it,&uot;&160;Pennington said of the event. &uot;It’s a chance to see all kinds of different breeds, some of which I’ve never seen before. And it’s a good family event, which we need more of these days.&uot;

The Humane Society’s Pat Cox said the idea for Bark in the Park came from a similar event in New Orleans. Proceeds go to pay operational costs of the Society’s Natchez animal shelter, she said.

&uot;After working with the animals at the shelter, it’s nice to see these pampered pets with their owners,&uot;&160;Cox said. &uot;I’ve even seen some that came from the shelter.&uot;