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Examiner
  • Dogtober Fest features contests, blessing

  • Just 15 minutes before the start of a costume contest Sunday afternoon, Leslie Wise put on the finishing touches with rouge.

    But Wise, of Independence, wasn’t making up her own face. Instead, she was adding the final details to her dog’s costume, which also included a diaper, a bib and a bonnet.

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  • Just 15 minutes before the start of a costume contest Sunday afternoon, Leslie Wise put on the finishing touches with rouge.
    But Wise, of Independence, wasn’t making up her own face. Instead, she was adding the final details to her dog’s costume, which also included a diaper, a bib and a bonnet.
    Libby, a 5-year-old Brittany, went as a baby Sunday afternoon at the 19th annual Dogtober Fest at Kemper Outdoor Education Center in Fleming Park. The six-hour event, organized by Jackson County Parks & Recreation, featured booths, demonstrations, workshops, contest and even a “poop raffle drawing” for a cash prize.
    “It’s fun, and the dogs seem to get along,” said Wise, who has attended Dogtober Fest since its inception. Instead of paying an admission fee, the hundreds of attendees are encouraged to donate a bag of dog food, which then go to local animal shelters, including the one in Independence.
    Different owners say their dogs represent different things to them. For Wise, her dog provides friendship, but for Terry Heffron of Overland Park, Kan., her two Pomeranians are her children.
    Heffron and her boyfriend, Michael Kaminski, attended Dogtober Fest for the second year. Their pooches, 4-year-old Annie, and 10-year-old Fancy, took second place in the costume contest as an electric witch and an electric princess, respectively – their costumes lit up, thanks to fiber optic detailing.
    “It’s really difficult when all these things happen at one time,” Heffron said, adding that she likes Dogtober Fest taking place on a Sunday since several other Kansas City area dog-related events took place on Saturday.
    So, who was the competition against Annie and Fancy in the costume contest? It wasn’t one or two dogs – it was an entry of 11 dogs with Kansas City Sheltie Rescue. With costumes built around a theme of the lottery and casinos, the back of one of the mini-cars holding two dogs read “Adopt... it’s a safe bet!”
    “We have a blast. We think it’s great exposure for us,” Kansas City Sheltie Rescue event coordinator Julie Foster said following the announcement of the organization’s first-place finish. “We just enjoy ourselves. We like to be out in the public so people can see our dogs and we can meet them.”
    Another special aspect of Dogtober Fest? Heffron says it’s the holy blessing of the animals that takes place mid-afternoon. The Rev. Sondra Bowers of New Song Church provided those blessings for the third year, saying that blessings for animals often are forgotten, even though the four-legged friends make up a significant part of humans’ lives.
    “Lord, we love to hear their laughter, their barks and their joy that they bring us,” Bowers said in her blessing of the small-breed dogs. “May they bring joy to their companions. May they bring joy to the home and happiness. We ask that your blessing and your grace be upon each one of these dogs.”  
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