Dogs and humans march for the holiday giving spirit
After registering for the march and sharing some quality sniffs in front of the fire station, wet noses pointed down Narragansett Avenue at 11 a.m. Two Dalmatians, driving the old 1925 fire engine, led the parade to the waterfront. The dog-suited firemen Ken Caswell and Lewis Kitts looked dapper in their floppy ears and spots.
Before the parade started officially, canines casually strolled about showing off holiday gear from a dash of design to full-blown bows and reindeer antlers. Ten-year-old Choggy, namesake of the brown baitfish, donned a green collar with bells, a nice accent to a shiny brown coat. Owner Trish Masso of Gondola Street said that Choggy has been the “best retriever” since being adopted at the age of three.
Sasha, a 6-year-old Border collie mix, was sporting a Santa outfit. Her owner Penny Heiniger of Westwind Road said that Jamestown was a great place to have a dog. “Dogs are so much a part of people’s lives here,” she said.
Christina Johnson came from Wyoming, R.I., with her Keeshond, Diva, and 12-week old Chow Chow, Moxie, to walk in the parade. Moxie’s grandmother Nimbus, who is still a youthful 6 years old, joined Moxie in her first parade festivities. Moxie’s owner, Paula Titon of Beacon Street, noted that they all were having a lot of fun. “It’s excellent socialization for them all. Everybody and their dogs are so nice,” Titon said, noting how well-behaved the dogs were.
Three awards were given for the top canine costumes in the parade. The costumes were judged for the most festive holiday attire. The winners received Chamber Checks for extra holiday spending.
Best Costume went to Apple Jack, a Jack Russell Terrier that was served up as a main Christmas entrée on a gourmet pillow. Owner Kathy Brownell of Conanicus Avenue dressed up as a chef, and Eliza, 6, was the sous chef for the delightful doggy dinner.
Second prize was awarded to Ranger the Santa, a large Rottweiller that showed up in his best red suit. Ranger’s owner, Denise Anthony from West Greenwich, heads up the Rhode Island Vest, a program that raises funds to purchase bulletand stab-proof vests for R.I. police dogs.
The third winner was most original, “although not technically a holiday theme,” Barbara Szeptakowski, the parade’s founder, said. Dog Watch, a canine slant on the Bay Watch theme, featured Bailey and Pose, two English Springer Spaniels, on “dog duty.” Clad in orange life jackets, the spaniels included a sign on their makeshift lifeguard chair, saying, “No humans allowed without leash.”
Szepatowski, owner of Paw & Claws pet boutique and co-ordinator of the event, said that over 100 dogs and their owners participated in the parade this year. Donations were still being counted at the time of the interview. “The parade has raised over $2,800 in the last three years of the event,” she noted. This year, all proceeds will go toward the opening of the new Jamestown Animal Shelter. The shelter will open the weekend of Feb. 11 and 12, “whether it’s ready or not,” Szepatowski said.
“The shelter is still trying to raise $2,500 for the medical fund to be used for the medical expenses for the animals. Dr. Civic has agreed to match all funds,” Szepatowski noted. Donations for the shelter’s matching medical fund should be mailed to the Jamestown Animal Clinic, 30 Narragansett Ave., Jamestown, RI 02835.
In a quick update on the animal shelter, Szepatowski said that three new, “beautiful” skylights were donated to the building. She also said that the shelter was “still waiting for the town” to get a dumpster for the property.
Szepatowski noted that no dogs were allowed at the site, and they get about 15 to 20 cats at a time. The shelter receives a variety of rodents as well, including guinea pigs and hedgehogs. “Parents like them (rodents) because they are small animals,” she added.
A large gingerbread pet shelter is on display at the police station, and will soon be given away. Szepatowski said that the plan is to give it to the largest donor from now until Christmas.