A costume contest that goes to the dogs

Halloween: Owners dress canine competitors to impress the judges and fetch a prize.

October 29, 2001|By Allison Klein | Allison Klein,SUN STAFF

For one day, nobody called Lily ugly. It would be inappropriate, after all, to say a blushing bride is anything but beautiful - even if she's a heavy breather and her bottom teeth jut out way beyond her face.

"All brides are beautiful," said Linda King of Guilford, who dressed up her bulldog in lace, pearls and a blue garter yesterday for the second annual Howl-A-Ween Fancy Dress Dog Competition.

Lily and 49 other pups strutted around the courtyard at the American Can Co. and panted at the camera during the Canton Community Association's annual event, which raised more than $300 for the city's first dog park, scheduled to open at Toone and Clinton streets in the spring.

A few dogs took it upon themselves to jump up on the judges' table to schmooze during the competition, which evoked jeers of "brown-noser!" from the crowd.

There was a little barking but no biting during the contest.

"We had one little incident [of barking] when we were in line, but everyone's been tolerant," said Terri Rychlak, who lives in Canton with Max, her greyhound. Max was wrapped like a mummy for the occasion.

The contest attracted more than a hundred people, as well as several angel pups with wings, devil dogs with horns and a handful of super pooches with red capes. Two Elvises made an appearance with guitars draped around their necks.

One Elvis, a Wheaton terrier named Brocky, won in the "matching dog and human" category with his owner, 9-year-old Anastasia Blank of Fells Point, who dressed as "a 1950s girl accompanied by her hero."

Other contest categories were scariest, funniest, most Baltimorean and most original. Free dog treats were passed around, and a bowl of communal water was on the check-in table. Registration was $5 per pooch, and winners took home gift certificates from Canton businesses.

There was no category for "wettest" so Angie Neeper, 24, was forced to enter Hank, her drooling, 185-pound Mastiff puppy dressed as Super Dog, in the "funniest" category. Hank was wearing a cape, red boxer shorts and "super power deflector bands" above his front paws.

Milling around near him were a bumble bee, a biker dude, an 8-pound fighter pilot and a family of four tiny West Highland white terriers dressed in purple - Melody and Nellie were Ravens cheerleaders, Winston and Nelson were Ravens football players.

"Some people don't have children. They dress up their dogs for Halloween," said Diana Dembeck, the Westies' owner, who was also clad in purple.

Lucas, a fluffy, floppy-eared Gordon setter, won the "most Baltimorean" title for his "Canton Fish out of Water" costume. He was wearing a large foam fish decorated with an image of Formstone and painted window screens made by his owner, Teri McBirney of Canton.

"He runs my life every other day of the year," McBirney said. "I figured one day he can get dressed up for me."

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