JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- Saturday's sixth annual Pet Pawrade attracted more than 200 humans and roughly 70 dogs. Canine lovers brought their dogs (Chihuahuas, Great Danes and everything in between) adorned in creative costumes, groomed to perfection and ready to excel in obedience tests all in the hopes of winning a prize in one of four categories: Best Looking, Best Costume, Best Dog Training and Best in Show.

"I thought I was going to have a heart attack when he won Best in Show," 79-year-old dog owner Fern Haynes said when her 3-year-old chow akita Dan won Best in Show. "I never dreamed this would happen. I'm just so thrilled about it, I still can't believe it."

Haynes, a spouse of a retired Airman, came to the parade for the first time this year.
The event, which was held on the field across from the Exchange at Joint Base Lewis-McChord McChord Field, was primarily a competition for dogs. It was also an educational event, parade
organizer Tricia La Rock-Barrett said.

"It educates military families on how to better care for their pets," La Rock-Barrett said. "It gives them a fun family day with pets."

Fun indeed.

Haynes, decked out in a NASCAR jersey, hat and oversize headphones, dressed her beloved chow akita up as a NASCAR dog, complete with a NASCAR toy car dragging along behind him. Together, the pair matched.

Other noteworthy costumes included a chef dog, and a green and blue polka dotted dinosaur outfit.
To attend, individuals needed to be either active duty, retired military personnel or employees of the installation. The event lasted from noon to 2 p.m., with judging for the four categories from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. The Tacoma Kennel Club and Lead Me On, a boarding and training program, judged the various categories.

Each category was worth five points. The criteria for Best Looking included head, coat, how well-groomed, how healthy the coat looked and the overall health of the dog, Tacoma Kennel Club member and volunteer Lynette Richardson said. Best Costume was judged on originality, cuteness and whether it was a crowd pleaser. The qualifications for Best Dog Training included the ability and attention on the owners, the dogs' agility, an obstacle course, self-control test and a behavior/tricks test, judge Ursula Pettyjohn said.

Best in Show was finally determined from the first-place dogs in the subordinate categories.
"He really works at it, he really likes to please you," Haynes said of prize-winning Dan. "If dogs feel, I'm sure he was happy."

In previous pet parades Dan, who is also a therapy dog, has won Best Costume.

But as Haynes put it, "(he's won) nothing as big as this."

Richardson said this event is important because "it gets the (JBLM) community together. People who have dogs can learn how to take care of their dogs."

This year, event organizers collaborated with the McChord Field Vet Clinic. About 15 to 20 employees of the clinic came out and volunteered. The clinic also offered a free dog wash.
The Best-in-Show winner received a $50 gift certificate. The first place winner in the other categories received a $25 gift card, second $15 and third $10.

"It was very cute, very fun," JBLM military wife Maggie Sosa said. "It was nice to see all the different dogs."

Attendees also had the opportunity to watch a military dog demo, which also drew a lot of attention.

"It lets the public know what we do on a day-to-day basis, as well as create a psychological deterrent," Staff Sergeant Robert Vidales of the 627th Security Forces Squadron said. "It allows the public to see the capabilities of our dogs."

During one of the demos, spectators watched as military personnel dressed in 300-pound body suits were tackled by the dogs. It typically takes about 120 days to train the dogs, Vidales said.
"It went well," Vidales said of the demo. "This is one of our better demos that we've done."

Parade organizer Colin Brooks is also pleased with how the event went.

"It was really smooth," Brooks said. "What surprised me is how well behaved the dogs were. Next year hopefully we'll get bigger and better."

For now, parade planners are just happy that the event attracted such a robust turnout.

"I just think it shows a sense of community," Richardson said. "Good dog socializing."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16