MARCO ISLAND — If the dogs and drinks charity event Wednesday evening was looking for an alternate name they already have “Mutts and Martinis” plus “Yappy Hour” the organizers might have given a nod to the weather and gone with “Iditarod South.” A wintry west wind whistled wickedly through the Esplanade, doubtless making the guests of honor glad they were wearing their fur coats.
No actual teams of sled dogs were seen, but Dave Walsh announced he was going skiing tomorrow on Indian Hill. The chilly weather caused the scheduled Pooch Parade and Judging to be pushed up a little bit, as DJ Steve Reynolds and NBC-2’s Nick Ciletti manned the microphones and dished out the shaggy dog humor.
The competition, announced Ciletti, was “dog eat dog.” He implored the audience to “throw me a bone,” echoing Austin Powers’ Dr. Evil, and pointed out contestants “putting on the dog.”
And put on the dog they did. Hundreds of dogs, and the humans who love them, and love to dress them up in ways no self-respecting dog would allow if they weren’t so patient, milled around the courtyard. Laurie Harris brought Isabella, her Yorkie-poo, whom she described as a “total party animal,” togged out as the olive to match Laurie’s Grey Goose Martini, covering both ends of the event’s name.
Jim Lang said he had nothing to do with the tutti-frutti paint job applied to Arfie Dinkydoo, the family pooch, and handed off the leash to son Gavin when the cameras came out. Bentley, a golden doodle escorted by Candy Seward, eschewed the glamour-puss look that won them “Chicest” honors in last year’s event for a pastoral costume. He was the sheep to her Bo Peep, and the twosome took home “Best in Show” for their efforts.
Cavalier King Charles spaniel Pandora, in mittens, a bonnet and a baby carriage, pushed by Bonnie Rousseau, won for most creative.
Jerry and Sharon Rutkowski, in matching cowboy outfits along with poodle Marcel, won the owner look-alike category. Not entered in the contest, but a strong contender if they had, apricot poodle Seamus and owner Katherine Blake sat at a table outside CJ’s after the judging, looking like at least fraternal twins. By that point, the courtyard was emptying of dogs and handlers, as people headed home to warm up, or to the inside seating at event sponsor CJ’s on the Bay.
“There are a few hardy souls out there, but everyone wants to get out of the wind,” said co-owner Curt Koon as he scurried through the dining room.
The event is a fun time with a serious purpose, raising funds for Bedtime Bundles. This Marco-based charity puts together and donates packages of supplies for the children of migrant farm workers, everything from pajamas and toiletries to blankets, books, toys and food.
Volunteer Dianna Dohm, one of the organizers, said overall contributions were down from last year, which was understandable due to the chilling wind, but offered “a bundle of thanks” to the individuals and businesses that supported Yappy Hour, now in its fifth year on Marco.
“We’re so appreciative of people coming out despite the weather,” she said, adding that over 500 (people) attended, and bid on over 75 silent and live auction items. With the help of the organization’s donors and volunteers, said Bedtime Bundles founder Karen Saeks, they will distribute thousands of bundles filled with helpful items for the area’s underprivileged.
To help Bedtime Bundles, a 501(c)3 charity, go to www.bedtimebundles.org or call (239) 393-3415.