Costumed canines on Halloween prowl
By Daniel Hallen
Preston didn’t seem to like his spandex superman costume. The 10-month-old Beagle kept spinning around, jumping up, looking for treats.
“We wanted Preston to have a day to have fun,” said Mei Lee, one of Preston the Superdog’s owners.
Preston was not alone in his discomfort with clothing. “Normally we put on their raincoats, and they won’t move,” said Kirsten Detlefsen.
She is the owner of a six-year-old Cocker-multi-poo, who was dressed as a Rebel environmentalist, and Buddy, a three-year-old Papillon-cocker-multi-poo, dressed as a Jack-o-Lantern.
Preston, Willow and Buddy were three of more than 18 dogs who attended Commercial Drive’s first Halloween Pet Parade and costume contest in Vancouver.
The parade was founded by Michelle Barile, executive director of the Commercial Drive Business Society, and three other local groups, the SPCA, Britannia Community Centre and the Grandview Woodlands Community Policing Centre.
It was inspired by other pet trick-or-treating events around Vancouver. It was a way to promote community, awareness about pets and about safety.
Barile said the business society and policing centre used to be at odds.
“When I started two years ago, that partnership wasn’t taking place: these events weren’t happening,” she said. “It seems to be so much more rewarding when you’re partnering and working together.”
“I started the event because I’m a dog lover,” said Barile, “but further to that, I wanted to partner with the SPCA, and promote their cause, adoption, and awareness, and also raise funds for the SPCA, and host a good fun community event.”
Scariest, funniest and most unusual
The parade involved a 500-metre hike around Grandview Park, through the Britannia Community Centre, and back to the park through an alley.
The event culminated with a contest, judged by applause, for the scariest, funniest, and most unusual looking pets.
Echo, dressed as a pirate, was top dog in the category of scariest. Licorice, the Skunk dog, was the winner as the funniest.
In the category of most unusual, an unnamed dog, dressed as Cinderella reigned victorious.
When asked what she would change for next year, Barile said, “More prizes.”
Post-contest, pets and owners trick-or-treated to dog-friendly businesses along Commercial Drive.
Pooches help protect property and neighbourhood
The event was also an opportunity for the Grandview-Woodlands Community Policing Centre to recruit dogs and dog owners for their Pooch Patrol program. Six new volunteers signed up.
The program takes advantage of dog walkers’ daily routes to serve as a form of neighbourhood watch.
It is considered another way to “make residents feel comfortable reporting things they’re concerned about,” said Adrian Archambault, coordinator of the GWCPC.
Archambault said the pet parade was a light-hearted way to increase residents’ sense of security in their neighbourhood.
“The more means you can give people to know what to do about situations that have to do with crime prevention and safety,” said Archambault.
“I think that’s what helps give people a sense of security.”
Happy in costume
Denise Meade, a senior manager at the BCSPCA, shared some tips for ensuring costumed dogs were comfortable, as she registered pet participants.
“It’s important to know that, when you’re putting dogs in costumes, that you’re not covering their ears or impeding them from walking,” said Meade.
Meade used Happy, a Shih Tzu-turned-bumblebee as the ideal example of a good costume.
“Happy’s head isn’t being impeded, Happy’s legs aren’t being impeded; her tail’s not covered up.”
“She can still socialize with other dogs, and yet have a cute costume.”