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by Terri Klinsky

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From left: Bailey with owner, and Scout with owner. Photos courtesy of Terri Klinsky

Weekend before last was Andersonville's Midsommerfest. In our house that only means one thing: the annual Pet Parade. Readers of this column know that our dachshunds, Topo and Bowie, have owned the costume contest for years, and Topo is a two-time winner on her own in the "Cutest Dog in Andersonville" category. We take pride in thinking up themes and designing homemade costumes. No store bought costumes for these dogs. OK, I will admit that the first year we entered Topo in the contest she did wear a lame, store-bought hot-dog suit. I know, I know, a dachshund in a hot-dog suit? We didn't know any better at that time and we are all still working through the embarrassment of it all. Moving forward, they have won as Sonny & Cher and as Bonnie & Clyde. This year our costume choice was Hugh Hefner and a playboy bunny. We have no shame here.

The day started out rainy and cold. Danica was smart to bring a towel to the event to dry the dogs off before dressing them, but it was still a challenge getting them stage ready. Despite the weather, a good crowd showed up, but there were only two entries in the costume category. Not knowing that the fix was in, we thought the win was in the bag! The "competition" was a small dog in a groom outfit ( looked store-bought to me ) and the owner was carrying a bride doll. I am all for props but that did not look like a winner to me! The contest started. The groom came on first and received a smattering of applause. Our two came on next and even though our friend Debby had Bowie looking like a mess, when the announcer finally said the words, "Hugh Hefner and a playboy bunny," the crowd went wild. Since the crowd picks the winner, again I thought it was in the bag. Typically, there are at least two times that they call for applause for each contestant. This time there was only one and, clearly, our dogs received the loudest crowd reaction. ( I wish I could play the film I took so you could hear it. ) Two seconds later, they called the groom dog the winner! The crowd was stunned! I was stunned! Topo needs therapy and I can really see why stage moms lose it. Yes, I am bitter.

The "fix" didn't end there. There seemed to be foul play in two other categories as well. Scout—an adorable, smiling, white ball of fur—won the smallest, cutest dog category, but another dog was declared the winner. By now murmurs were heard in the crowd. What is going on? Can't the judges on stage hear the crowd? It gets worse. The largest, cutest dog category had a puppy in it! A puppy in the large dog category? Oh no, that can't be right. ( The organizers instructed the owner to be in that category. ) Of course that dog ( Bailey ) won, thus pissing off the large-dog people. Honestly, that dog was adorable and clearly a winner ( and also our neighbor ) , but she should have been in the small-dog category.

So another year is over and our winning streak is ruined, but what we have planned for next year will blow them all away. No way will there be any question as to who wins. In the words of my favorite Chicago sports team: Wait until next year!

Note: In case anyone thinks I am being biased, here is an article I ran across on the Web:

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