Poochapalooza goes to the dogs

MARYSVILLE – Lynn MacKenzie of Tulalip was happy, and not just because her Irish setter, Reno, had just won the “longest ears” contest at Marysville’s Poochapalooza on Sunday.

She was glad the event was taking place and that its proceeds were going to help pay for an off-leash dog park for Marysville.

“Marysville’s grown so much, and everybody loves dogs,” she said.

The inaugural event took place in an athletic field adjacent to the Strawberry Festival near Marysville Junior High School. Figures on proceeds weren’t available Sunday, but more than 300 dog owners paid $15 apiece – bringing the total to at least $4,500 – to bring their canines for contests, doggie dancing, an agility course and flying disc and ball chasing.

The dogs “all seem to be getting along pretty good,” said Leslie Buell, who helped organize the event.

Thirty-six vendors with dog-related items were also on hand. The estimate for onlookers was more than 500 with 90 minutes left in the event.

“I love the turnout, and it’s for a good cause,” said Greg Nelson of Marysville. His lab-pit bull mix, Bishop, tied for first place in one of two “stupid pet trick” competitions. Bishop rolled over and played dead when Nelson pantomimed “shooting” him.

Judging in some contests was gauged by audience applause, and a ruler was used for the longest ears contest. Reno’s measured about 8 inches.

Other contests included “cutest ugly dog,” best costume, best kisser and best voice. Winners received blue ribbons and gift certificates from local businesses.

The event was put on almost entirely with donations from individuals and merchants, organizer Buell said. As a dog owner and a member of the Strawberry Festival board of directors, she’s been working since last year to get Poochapalooza started with the intention of creating an off-leash park.

“Judging from how many dogs we got here today, there’s a need,” said Leslie’s husband, Doug Buell, another organizer.

No formal plan for a park has been put together. A site has not been selected, though Doug Buell said he and others have been out scouting. They’re looking for at least 20 acres, ideally 40 or 50, he said. It’s expected that the site would be jointly funded by donations and the city, said Buell, who’s also the city’s spokesman.

City Councilman Lee Phillips, a dog owner who volunteered at the event, said he likes the idea.

“This event has just shown how much community support there is,” he said.

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