June 13, 2004 While the dogs got the most attention at Sunday's Fourth Annual Wagapalooza, sponsored by the Animal Care Center of St. John, some of the several dozen tiny kittens tumbling about a big wire cage were the real winners. They found new homes.
"I love kittens. I have an adult female at home that would like to have a companion. We'll see," St. John resident Toni Leopold said, as she picked an especially cute one out of the bunch.
Katha Ricciardi, who works at the Animal Care Center shelter, said about mid-way through the afternoon event, eight people had taken home kittens. There were still many more left. Several hundred people gathered at Skinny Legs Bar and Restaurant for the event.
"This is the biggest event of the year," Roth Jordan of St. John said. Claiming to be the uncle of the dog, Chihuahua Harley Davidson, he said the dog came to soak in the atmosphere rather than participate in the show.
More than 70 people entered their dogs in the various categories. St. Thomas resident Max the Wiener Dog won the best costume category with the help of his owner, Nikki Barnes, 10, and two of her friends, Frances Lenahan and K.C. Webb. Barnes, who carried Max, was dressed like a hot dog bun. Her friends carried condiments.
Some of the other costumes were eye catching. Deputy Dog featured Mauby, a blue chip coonhound, with St. John resident Jeff Donnelly in prison garb. His kids, Pace, 7, and Sydney, 4, wore western outfits. Skipper, a Schipperke, was accompanied by Mariah Scheer, 9, Marina Scheer, 6, and Coral Breuning, 9, as the Coral Bay Crabs and Crabettes. They wore red satin and sequins.
Other winners included Abby, owned by St. John resident Alicia Hill, in the Island Dog category. Best trick went to Fenway, owned by St. Thomas resident Scott Schaier. The best look-alike award went to Taco Bell, owned by Lexi Kirby, 4.
Matt Crafts and his Sharpei captured the best in show. The Sharpei, like several of the other dogs in the show, came from the Animal Care Center.
Some of the dogs fell a bit short on their tricks, but it didn't seem to matter. St. John resident Jim Urbinati said that his dog Missy, now 14, wasn't up to her old tricks, but it was fun to participate.
"It's dog's day in Coral Bay," he said.
St. Thomas resident Linda Witkop said her dog, a Yorkie named Ditto, had no talent. "She was supposed to just smile," she said as the two exited the ring.
Witkop said the visit to St. John gave Ditto a chance to get away from the four cats left at home.
St. John resident Liz Ford said she entered the event, with her Jack Russell Terrier, Zoe, because the Animal Care Center is a good cause. "And it's fun," she added.
Statistics provided by the Animal Care Center show that the shelter has 36 cats, 21 kittens and three dogs looking for new homes. If you'd like to adopt a pet, call the shelter at 774-1625.
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