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Barktoberfest a Financial, and Heartwarming, Success

Oct. 17, 2004 – About 300 dog owners appeared to be having even more fun than the 100 or so dogs romping around Bolongo Bay Sunday afternoon at the Humane Society of St. Thomas' third annual Barktoberfest.
Well, maybe, maybe not. But it's a sure bet that the owners were getting more giggles than their canine companions as the dogs pranced around attired as an angel, or a butterfly, a ladybug, or, in one case, a red-velvet-cloaked King of England.
"Isn't this great?" said Mary Gleason, whilst showing off "Scampi," her 8-month-old toy poodle who was making his professional debut. The tiny, silver gray pup ignored his mother, however, when it came his time to show his stuff in the kissing contest.
Well, he didn't really ignore her, relatively speaking. He got in a couple licks.
It was the larger dogs who tended to make their owners look – there's simply no other way to say it – downright silly. German shepherds, coconut retrievers, a cocker-poo and an assortment of bigger breeds dutifully marched before the judges, sat down and militantly turned their heads away, as their owners squatted in the sand pleading for just one kiss.
Nothing doing.
Shaun Pennington coaxed and cajoled her normally overly affectionate cocker-poo "Buddy," but he was having none of it. Finally, "Elmer," a small black and white bulldog, came to the rescue lapping his owner Robert good and proper, and carrying off first prize, which, alas, didn't come with a napkin.
The beach was crowded with all sorts of dogs and dog owners in various states of sartorial splendor. Actually, the owners opted for less flair than the dogs who wore everything from oversize sunglasses to velvet capes.
And there were puppies and kittens awaiting homes gathered in cages, and surrounded by lots of children pleading with parents to take them home. One puppy was adopted by the vendor offering tattoos.
The event has been held at Latitude 18 for the last two years. However it recently closed, and Paul and Richard Doumeng offered Bolongo Bay Resort. Looking over the burgeoning crowd which occupied almost every square foot of beachfront Sunday, Richard Doumeng said they were happy to host the event. "When you get a chance to donate for a cause and make a few bucks at the same time, that's good for business and good for the community," he said.
Richard Doumeng's family grew by one on Saturday. "It was the spirit of the thing," he said: "I adopted a 4-week-old black puppy yesterday at the shelter." He said the puppy was too young yet, however, to join in Sunday's activities.
The Humane Society had all sorts of goods on sale, including cookies, T-shirts, hamburgers and memberships. The organization is raising money in its Paws to Care capital campaign for its new state-of-the-art Animal Care Campus, which is scheduled for groundbreaking this November. (See "Ground Clearing Begins For Animal Care Campus").
Kids were enjoying playing frisbee with dogs romping back and forth, a rare sight as dogs aren't allowed on most beaches. Some of the canines were having none of that, however. "John Frederick of Antilles," a snowy white West Highland Terrier, sat dutifully and, it could be said, stuffily, at his mother's feet."We call him 'Jack,'" his mother, Phyllis Klemuk, allowed. He didn't look the frisbee type.
Everywhere there were the introductions and the comparisons. Dog owners seem to have a built-in radar as regards others' pets.
"Oh, really, he looks so cute in those sunglasses," commented one owner, shuddering.
A Chihuahua, improbably done up as a diminutive bright green hippo, was making the rounds, getting a diminutive share of attention, along with dogs wearing giant sunglasses, bandanas and one poor creature in the inevitable hot dog outfit.
There was more than enough attention, laughter and general good feeling to go around.
Little Bo Peep, a.k.a. Mina Orenstein, strolled around the beach in a pink gingham outfit, a white staff, and "Charlie," a 14-year-old white Maltese.
"I am having a lovely day," said Orenstien. "It's so great to see all these people and all the dogs. I renewed my membership, and paid to be in the lookalike contest, (even if I didn't win), and bought raffle tickets. I hope they raised lots of money today."
David Warner, looking rather uncomfortable, wandered around the beach shepherding three medium-sized white dogs, one long-haired, one sort of bristled and one short-haired. "I never really meant to be a dog owner," Warner said. "After Hurricane Marilyn, I found them at the end of the driveway.
"I wasn't going to keep them," he said, "so I took them to the shelter where they said they had so many after the storm that they'd have to put them to sleep." Looking down at the 9-year-old littermates now nested at his feet, Warner said, "What could I do?"
Cara Hinton, who co-chaired the event with Stacey Cohen, said later that they had raised "at least $5,000" which will go toward the new $2 million animal campus. Hinton said with all the dogs Sunday, "we had one cat." She said a woman and her son, who had adopted the kitten about a month ago, brought it Sunday in a canvas bag.
"She was a little nervous," Hinton said, "and didn't do more than peek her head out, but she was the only cat brave enough to come out!"
An island mut named "Coconut" won best in the island mix contest; the lookalike was won by "Churasco"; most obedient was " Max," a Weimaraner; and the best-dressed was a "Monty," a bulldog dressed in a Rasta outfit with colored shorts and T-shirt.
Sergio Ruano, Bolongo resort activities director, directed the contests with remarkable aplomb in the face of dogs that wouldn't kiss, dogs that wouldn't obey, and dogs who simply wanted to go home and read a good book.
Winners received round-trip tickets on Cape Air, and second-place contestants got a dinner at the Green House restaurant.
The event was sponsored by Cape Air and Bolongo Bay Resort. Doumeng said he'd be happy to do it again next year.

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