Here’s how I spent my Fourth of July: I drove north to Baltimore, to the American Visionary Art Museum and watched a bunch of pets wearing silly costumes. I love America and its kooky ways. This event is truly a tacky treasure.
The event starts with a parade of all the pets, which are mostly dogs. There were a few non-dog contestants, most notably a South African tortoise named Brutus. He brought up the rear in the parade, and he did not participate in the musical chairs competition. Yet this popular reptile won the People’s Choice award. In Baltimore, you can’t go wrong with a reference to steamed crabs. Throughout the competition, he could be seen slowly cruising the stone plaza, unaffected by the heat, the crowd, or barking dogs, and carrying a pot of crabs on his shell.
This is a friendly competition with about a dozen prizes, including “Least likely to succeed as a pet,” “Your mama dresses you funny,” and “Owner and pet look-alike.” Wilda, a service dog in training for Guiding Eyes for the Blind, was a slam dunk winner in the musical chairs competition. As soon as the music stopped, and her owner gave her the “Sit!” command, Wilda’s was the first doggie ass to hit the pavement every time. She has a great future as a service dog ahead of her. The top prize went to a skinny little chihuahua dressed as Michael Jackson, complete with one glove on its front paws.
I have come to the conclusion, that pugs, as a breed, are extremely tolerant of being put in ridiculous costumes and situations. Here’s a pair of pugs dressed as a just-married bride and groom. Another pug was made to wear a shower cap and was wheeled around in a stroller meant to look like a bath tub with suds, while a bubble machine blew bubbles and a boom box played, “Splish, Splash.” These dogs clearly would do just about anything for their owners.
This is the third time that I’ve attended this annual event, and it’s always a great time. My cats, Gary and Dave, have been spared this experience because they rarely leave the house, and I don’t think they have ever seen a dog, except through the window. And get them into costumes? I don’t think so. In fact, except for Brutus, I believe all the other non-dog contestants were inanimate, such as a sock monkey, and Henri the Warthog, who lives in the restaurant in the museum, “Mr. Rain’s Fun House.”
For more photographs of this event, check out my Flickr set called, “Visionary Pets on Parade,” where you can see more great pets, such as a dachshund dressed as Haile Selassie, a Westie dyed green with alien antennae, and more.