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A howling good time

Published Oct. 22, 2005, in the Opelousas Daily World

Pouring rains on Saturday caused Westminster Christian Academy's annual dog show to move inside, but that didn't keep the peppy pooches from showing off their stuff.

The dog show, one of the highlights of Westminster's annual Fall Fest, usually takes place outside in front of the school's gym, said Amanda Bertrand, one of the event's coordinators. In the nine years Bertrand has been working with Fall Fest, this is the first year bad weather has pushed the party inside the gym, she said.

"But everyone knew exactly what to do," she said. "We just set up all of the booths in the gym, and everyone moved inside."

Before the show, children prepped their dogs for the competition, brushing their hair and reapplying hats and other costume pieces that their fidgeting dogs may have shaken off.

Betony Stack, a Westminster fourth grader, explained that her 8-year-old golden lab, Sparkie, knew how to shake hands. Sparkie was dressed up in a Snow White costume, with a blue and red top and a white skirt.

When asked why she chose a Snow White costume for her dog, Betony answered, "We just found it was the best costume. It looked the cutest on her."

Betony's grandmother, Hallie Myers, said that Sparkie was found on the side of the road about two and a half years ago.

"She was just dumped there, I guess," Myers said. "For three days I saw her in the same spot in the middle of the road, and I was afraid she'd get hit by a car, so I took her in."

Myers said Sparkle is a good protector, and she kills a lot of snakes and rats outside of their Grand Prairie home.

Another participant, third grader Summer Bennett, dressed her German shepherd puppy, Duke, in a candy cane costume.

Duke, who is eight weeks old, is playful and runs really fast, said Summer. Duke was the only male in a litter seven puppies. Summer said her family only gave away two of the puppies, and she takes care of Duke, four of his sisters, and his mother, Breeze.

Dogs of all shapes, sizes and breeds participated in the contest. Some dogs were excited and energetic, and they playfully skittered across the gym floor. Others seemed frightened and had to be coaxed to move or dragged by the collar. Dog costumes included a pumpkin, a dinosaur, a hunter and even a Westminster Christian Academy jersey.

According to Dianna Vice, one of the event coordinators, the dogs were judged on how well they walked, how healthy they looked, and how well they behaved.

During the puppy competition, Amber Hargroder and Emma, her great dane puppy, pranced into middle of the gym. Since Emma weighs 110 pounds and was easily larger than most of the children in attendance, many were surprised she was entering the puppy category.

"That's not a puppy," one young boy said to his mother. "It can't be."

But Emma is only six months old, Hargroder said. She adopted Emma when she was nine weeks old, and she drove to Atlanta to get her.

"They don't really breed great danes anywhere around here," she said.

Hargroder is a ULL sophomore, and she said Emma stays in her apartment every day while she's at school.

"Her kennel is huge," she said. "It takes up a third of my apartment. She sleeps in the bed with me at night, and she takes up almost the whole bed."

Despite her already large size, Hargroder said Emma will get a lot taller and wider in the coming year.

"Full grown great danes are supposed to be about 32 inches across the shoulders, and right now she's about half that size," Hargroder said.