There are few things in this world that I love more than dogs and beer.
So when Lake Oswego Recreation Supervisor Jamie Inglis approached me about judging the costume contest at 'Barks & Brews" — a celebration of the new off-leash dog area at West Waluga Park — I couldn't resist the opportunity to slurp some suds while critiquing canine couture.
Dozens of residents and their dogs descended on the park last Thursday
for the celebration. The fenced-in area, which is located at the back of the park at 15775 Waluga Drive, is the city's second dog park and one of four official off-leash areas.
"This was just an empty field before," says Parks Maintenance Supervisor Jeff Munro, who upgraded the area in the spring with help from personnel from around the state as part of an Oregon Recreation & Park Association service project. "Now we've kind of delineated a bit between the park and the dog park."
German shepherds, pugs, corgis, labradoodles and everything in between were well represented at "Barks & Brews." The dogs got some playtime in at the dog park while owners chowed down on offerings from Portland food cart Dogs & Fries and drank beer and cider from Ancestry Brewing, the unofficial sponsor of LO Parks & Rec events.
I was joined on the judging panel by three fellow members of the Lake Oswego community: City Councilor and Metro Council candidate Joe Buck; Pearl Schwind, a doctor's assistant at Animal Care Group of Lake Oswego; and ACGLO volunteer Allysa Campos. As the sun set, 13 contestants lined up to be critiqued.
Before the costume competition, I had imagined it would be fairly easy to spot the winner. Instead, I found myself conflicted about whose outfit I liked the best. From superheroes and Pokemon to button-up shirts and Seattle Seahawks jerseys, these pooches confidently strutted their stuff as we judged them on attire, tricks and overall presenta-tion.
Several performed tricks and received an audible "awww" from the judges' table. Several others refused to perform when put in the spotlight. But their dissent was almost as adorable as those who performed, and part of me wished I could give them all first place just for being good boys and girls.
In the end, though, it came down to one particularly well-dressed pup to take the top prize — Lesha Dupuis' goldendoodle named Friday.
Friday embodied the spirit of his namesake; dressed in a plaid tie and fedora, he looked as if he was ready for a night on the town, eating at a fancy restaurant before catching drinks at a jazz club with his dog mates.
In a tie for runner-up, we selected Gizmo, a chihuahua-terrier mix in a Pikachu costume, who is owned by Robert and Christina Adams; and Louie, a French bulldog in a fitted blue button-up shirt, who came and went with owner Chuck Gard.
Getting to see so many cute dogs and meet their owners was a real treat, and I sincerely hope that Parks & Rec hosts another one of these meetups in the future. After all, there aren't many events that combine two of my favorite things in the world — canines and cold beer — and don't require a leash.
PARKS FOR POOCHES
Dogs are required to be under the control of their owners in all parks except the fenced-in area at West Waluga and the Hazelia Dog Park (17800 Stafford Road). Unfenced off-leash areas are also available in Pilkington Park (19043 Pilkington Road) and McNary Park (47 Becket St.). For more information, visit www.ci.oswego.or.us/parksrec/off-leash-dog-areas.