Print Pet owners celebrate companions at park
Written by Greg Ruland   
Monday, 07 November 2011 00:00

Some pets and owners were easy to match, like the bat-winged, mixed-breed, three-legged canine named Andy and his owner, a modern-day Clarkdale vampire named Penny Halstead, 10. Think clubbing a la “Twilight.”

Penny’s sister, Erin Halstead, 14, also strutted her vampire credentials accompanied by Angel, a greyhound mix. The Halsteads and their dogs won an award for best costume at the Celebration of Pets Day at Clarkdale Park on Saturday, Oct. 29.

Jay Murphy, right, walks his dog, Sasha, through the Parade of Pets in the Clarkdale Town Park on Saturday, Oct. 29. Murphy adopted Sasha from the Adopt for Life Center for Animals earlier this year.There were plenty of other dogs to admire, but some pets stood out by their absence. It was clearly an event that went to the dogs, with a couple of important exceptions.

Frankie, a slightly irritated cat, for example, won the prize for being the only cat to take part in the show and parade. Frankie participated by riding in a cat cage carried by owner Howard Webb and occasionally barking an annoyed “mew.”

“He’s a circus cat,” Webb said.

“Oh, Howard,” Webb’s wife, Carie Webb, scoffed.

“He is. He is. He is not just a cat. He can do things like in a circus — tight-rope walk, climb a ladder, turn on a ball,” Howard Webb said.

“Used to,” Carie Webb said.

Cottonwood resident Denny Mareck hangs out with his ten-month-old cockatiel, Isabel, at the Celebration of Pets event in Clarkdale on Saturday, Oct. 29. Mareck said although the bird has a cage the door is never closed and they often take walks around town together.Well, yes, Howard Webb said, it has been a few years since Frankie performed back flips. Still, “he’s got a personality you wouldn’t believe.”

The same could be said for most of the animal lovers and their animals who took part in the annual Clarkdale event, a tradition begun 20 years ago by St. Thomas Episcopal Church. About four years ago, the church opened the event to the public to perform pet blessings for all, according to event organizer Joy Simons.

Take Denny Marek, for example. From the profile on one side, it wasn’t easy to see Marek walked with a big chirp on his shoulder, his cockatiel named Isabel.

A closer examination from Mark’s other side confirmed the presence of the bird, but not the identity of the animal actually in control of the relationship.

“They are so friendly, social, low-maintenance,” Marek said. “She goes almost everywhere with me.”

To prove the point, Marek and Isabel resumed their place in the long parade of pet owners marching in formation near the gazebo, Isabelle perched at Marek’s ear.

The prize for the largest animal went to Pam Clark’s Irish wolfhound, Gale. Clark’s firm grip was all that kept Gale in check with the other animals prancing around.

“They aren’t like any other breed of dog I’ve ever known. She never met a stranger she didn’t like,” Clark said.

Vivian Hystad’s Yorkshire terrier, Cubbie, is all that and more.

“They’re very comforting and loving. Their love is unconditional. They never bite the hand that feeds them,” Hystad said.