A Dog Day Afternoon with SVENGOOLIE at BARK-O-WEEN!
With respect to religion and politics, the subject of “cats and dogs” can be equally divisive. It seems like most animal lovers will declare their allegiance to either one or the other. Maybe it’s the Libran in me, but I actually like both species. I also enjoy listening to both The Beatles AND Rolling Stones while considering myself a fan of “Star Wars” as well as “The Lord of the Rings” trilogies. Call me wishy-washy, but I think life’s more enjoyable when you aren’t an “all or nothing” kind of a person. Regarding the topic of pets; at this point in my life, I’m the proud owner of a beautiful tuxedo kitty named Felix. However, having had a loyal canine in my childhood, there are many times when I find myself longing for “man’s best friend.”
Since I’m currently doggy-challenged, Svengoolie’s annual visit to “Parker’s Pets” in Chicago for their ”Bark-o-Ween” celebration was one I’ve always skipped. I know you aren’t required to own a dog to attend, but the idea just seemed sort of depressing. Like being childless while sitting near a playground and watching all the happy parents playing with their kids. I even tried enlisting some dog-owner friends of mine to join me but none were available (nor stupid enough to not figure out that I was blatantly using them for their dogs). Determined to see what this event was like, I grabbed the kids and decided to head up there anyway.
The store specializes in organic foods & treats for both dogs and cats. This shop is designed for serious pet owners who want nothing but the best for their four-legged companions and aren’t afraid to pay a little extra for it. Even their treats looked so darn good you almost wished you were a dog so you could indulge in them!
Sven arrived shortly after we did and a line of fans quickly assembled to see him. Unlike most Svengoolie appearances where the autograph and photos (taken with your own camera) are FREE, this was a charity event and required registration and payment. Prices ran $10 for an autograph and photo (taken with their camera) or $20 if you also wanted them to throw in a special “rubber chicken” dog toy for Sven to sign…and who wouldn’t?
The proceeds went to PIT STOP RESCUE, a Chicago based organization comprised of loving volunteers who work hard at rescuing and finding homes for pit bulls. Did your blood pressure just spike when you read “pit bull?” That’s because the breed has been given a bad reputation for being monsters when the real culprit stands on two legs. These animals are no different in temperament than other breeds unless they are raised that way. Most shelters euthanize orphaned pit bulls on the spot but PIT STOP RESCUE works hard to see that these animals get a new lease on life instead. If you would like to look into adopting or supporting these hard-working folks, click HERE.
One of the first fans to meet him was a gruesome looking couple who didn’t have a dog but wanted to see their favorite host anyway. ______ were dressed as Gomez and Morticia Adams and weren’t the only ones wearing costumes.
What makes “Bark-o-ween” stand out from other appearances is its dog costume contest where festive pet owners can win some great prizes! I was told during the event that cat-owners are welcome to bring their companions and participate too while imagining Felix having a kitty heart-attack while surrounded by a posse of costumed dogs.
Svengoolie happily posed with both human and animal fans while I enjoyed seeing some of the cute idea their owners came up with. Meanwhile, Sven’s assistant Jim provided his own humorous touches that make his appearances downright hilarious!
Because this event was not free, there were less visitors than the usual Sven appearances. This gave me more time to chat with the host and, in keeping with the day’s theme, I decided to see where Sven stood on the whole dog/cat issue. And the verdict? While Svengoolie is open to the idea of owning a dog, he is actually a…..BIRD person. Yes, Sven has been a bird owner in his life and enjoys them as pets. I suppose there’s some irony here since he’s always been associated with a bird, albeit the rubber variety.
After the signing, everyone went behind the store for the big contest. There would be three categories along with a grand prize winner.
These would include Best Costume Owner & Pet, Cutest Costume (I did not envy the judges on having to choose that one), and scariest costume (scary being a loose term here). Personally I thought they should have added a 4th category; “dog that can keep its costume on for the duration of the event.”
Sven got ready to announce the 2012 participants while Jim (who, by the way, is a proud dog owner himself) carefully looked over the entries…
After each contestant took their turn on the catwalk…er…runway, Sven & company retreated back inside the store to deliberate. The tension must have gotten to the anxious participants as two broke into a quick and harmless skirmish while awaiting the verdict.
Sven returned and the moment everyone had waited for had finally arrived! And announced the winners of each category.
After the top three in each category were announced, it was time to announce the Grand Prize Winner! And it’s…
The Grand prize went to a family who, along with their pooch, spoofed TLC reality show, “Here comes Honey Boo Boo” which I hear is sort of like “Toddler’s in Tiaras” meets “The Beverly Hillbillies.”
As a returned home that afternoon, I had to quickly upload my pictures and recharge my camera’s batteries before leaving with my older son to the second Svengoolie appearance that night at “The Nightmare on Chicago Street.” As I sat at my computer going through the photos, a felt a gentle rub against my leg. Felix was purring and jumped on my lap looking for attention. At first I was irritated by the interruption but soon realized while petting him that a little pause would do me good.
No, maybe I’ll never get him to sit still long enough to dress up in a costume, nor walk in a contest with other pets without racing up the nearest tree, but Felix is still my baby and I wouldn’t trade him for any other animal.
Not to mention, I never have to worry about him chewing up my collection of signed, Svengoolie rubber chickens!