Canines in costume carouse

The four-footed set bring their people together to celebrate, support dog parks




You can learn more about DOGPAW by visiting or calling 888-899-0025.

Dogs dressed as frontiersmen, crustaceans and various food items raced, rolled and sang their way across the Ross Off-Leash Dog Recreation Area during DOGPAW’s annual Dogtoberfest event Saturday in Vancouver.

Dogtoberfest included a costume contest, along with various doggie Olympics events such as best tail-wag, best kisser, best singer and best tricks. Besides providing dogs and their owners a play date, the event served as a valuable tool in recruiting new members for DOGPAW, chairwoman Kathleen Hansen said.

You can learn more about DOGPAW by visiting or calling 888-899-0025.

The Dog Owners Group for Park Access in Washington, an all-volunteer nonprofit based out of Vancouver, runs five parks in Clark County, each of which is between six and eight acres in size. The Hazel Dell location where Dogtoberfest occurred Saturday is at Northeast Ross Street and 15th Avenue.

The organization needs $5,000 in annual donations per park to pay for maintenance and upkeep, Hansen said. Memberships are $15 for singles and $25 for families. The organization has around 700 members, she added.

Organizers cancelled one of Dogtoberfest’s biggest moneymakers — the lure course for sight dogs such as greyhounds — when the motor that propels mechanized rabbits and squirrels failed, Hansen said.

While Dogtoberfest did not offer a lure competition, it offered plenty of other opportunities for dogs to showcase their talents or to prance around without a care in the world.

“When their dog is so happy, like that one running around with a smile on its face,” Hansen said pointing out a nearby pooch, “it just kind of makes you happy.”

Among the happy pet owners in attendance were Washougal residents Kat and Chris Barnes.

“It’s nice to have the environment where we can play with our dogs,” Kat Barnes said. “We’re always looking for things to do with our pets.”

Melody, their 2-year-old treeing Walker coonhound, won Dogtoberfest’s best costume ribbon for her coonskin hat that recalled a canine Davy Crockett. She also finished second in the best singer competition.

“She’s a princess and she knows it,” Kat Barnes said of Melody. The couple got Melody from a breeder in Longview when she was nine months old. Since then, she has emerged as a vital part of their family, Kat Barnes said.

Fern, the Barnes’ 3-year-old yellow Labrador, won best kisser for a big, wet one it planted on Chris Barnes’ face.

Rod Chambers’ 9-year-old mini-Doberman, Rylee, did not win best costume, but it probably would have won for most mistaken costume had such a category existed.

“That’s a little bug,” said a woman who stopped and stared at Rylee.

“A crawfish,” Chambers corrected her gently.

Other passersby remarked about having seen a dog dressed as a lobster.

Rylee did not seem to mind.

“The dogs are enjoying it as much as we do,” Chambers said. “They need their outings.”

Even attendees who did not have dogs at the event enjoyed watching the chipper mood of others’ pets.

Darleen Chester, of Salinas, Calif., helped officiate the contests, as a favor to her sister, Arleen Chester, a DOGPAW member. Darleen Chester, a dog owner herself, could not hide her excitement as she watched the tail-wagging contest.

“Look at that tail go,” she said into the microphone. “You can’t even see it, it’s going so fast.”

During a pause in the action, Darleen Chester praised Vancouver for its dog parks.

“These are the best dog parks I have seen,” she said.

Ray Legendre: 360-735-4517;;;