There was an autumn nip — and lots of yips and yaps — in the air Saturday at Arlington Depot Park, where scores of dogs and their humans took part in the town’s second annual Halloween PAWrade.
Costumed pooches of all breeds and sizes came from near and far to compete for prizes or just to show off their wonderful garb. There were four-legged bumble bees and ballet dancers and pumpkins and, well, you name it. There was also a canine Clydesdale. And two skunks. A dog in a skunk costume. And a for-real skunk.
The festival, organized by the Kearny Urban Enterprise Zone as both a fun event for Kearnyites and a way to showcase the town to nonresidents, made its debut a year ago and was such a howling success, it demanded a repeat.
The co-sponsors were K-9 Corner and Bone Appetit Spa and Dog Barkery. Following the PAWrade of pups, there was a costume contest, with 1st and 2nd -place prizes in two categories: dogs over and dogs under 40 lbs.
In the large-dog group, the awards went to two pit bulls, both from North Arlington: 1st place, Sasha, who was dressed as a lion, and 2nd, Chloe, a firetruck. Their humans were also costumed, as a lion tamer and a firefighter.
Small-dog winners were Nugget, a chihuahua from Clifton, costumed as a spider, and Sprinkles, a Maltese from Colonia, who portrayed the Cookie Monster.
(Note that the KUEZ’s efforts to attract out-of-towners was a success.)
John Peneda, KUEZ coordinator, was delighted at the turnout and noted that the day was “fun for the owners and fun for the pets.” He also complimented the dogs on their good behavior and the owners for how well they handled the animals. “They’re all responsible owners,” he said.
All these dogs pretending to be other things made for great photo-ops, not the least of which was the scene of large dalmatians happily posing with (actual, not pretend) Kearny firefighters and a firetruck.
Then, there was the Clydesdale, complete with a six-pack of Bud. (As a prop, not for pup consumption.) The “horse” was actually a Maltipoo (Maltese/ poodle) named Loubacca, and it was not wearing a costume. Its disguise was the result of coloring and grooming, and it was masterful.
Loubacca belongs to Michelle and Tim Kelly of Kearny, but they did not enter him in the contest. That’s because Michelle was from fest sponsor K-9 Corner and the Clydesdale was thus not eligible to compete.
In addition to enjoying the sight of all the doggie disguises, humans at the festival could visit a number of tables and get pet treats, learn about programs such as Kearny TNR (Trap-Neuter- Return; it’s for cats), have their photos taken with their pets or at a pit bull kissing booth. There were also pet adoption opportunities from the Bergen County Animal Shelter.
We did not kiss the pit bull, but we did kiss the skunk. On its nose.
When we arrived at the park, someone showed us a cell phone photo of the creature with Mayor Alberto Santos. And we set off to find it. We asked several people, and met with the same response:
“Do you know where the skunk is?”
“Oh, you mean the dog dressed as a skunk.”
“No, a real skunk.”
“There’s no real skunk.”
“Yes, there is!”
And the search would start again.
Finally, we found it, cradled in the arms of its owner — whose name we regretfully neglected to get. We think the skunk’s name was Poet. (The owner is invited to contact us at The Observer, so we can rectify our goof.)
In any case, we learned that skunks (descented) can make lovely pets. And can be litter-box trained. We are seriously thinking of adding to our menagerie.
If you are wondering why we were so delighted to see a skunk, it’s because we had already groused a bit to Peneda about the fact that dogs always get all the attention. Why were no cats, hamsters, rabbits, etc., invited to the PAWrade?
He was extremely polite, but justifiably noncommital regarding future festivals.
Okay. Maybe mixing up lots of kinds of critters would be a bad idea.
But we hope the skunk comes back.