06/08/11 — Dog days start with Pet Parade

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Dog days start with Pet Parade

By Aaron Moore
Published in News on June 8, 2011 1:46 PM

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Shy'ml Jones, 23 months, plays under a sprinkler with Oreo at the Ice Cream Social and Pet Parade on Center Street in downtown Goldsboro.

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Grace Leon, 1, enjoys ice cream fed by her mother Amanda Huffman at the Ice Cream Social and Pet Parade in Goldsboro.

It's months before the dog days of summer arrive, but the dogs are already here, taking over Center Street Tuesday afternoon as Goldsboro residents gathered for the annual Pet Parade and Ice Cream Social.

And while most of the adults there took advantage of the occasion to walk their dogs -- and in one case, carry a hedgehog -- around downtown, many of the children were just as, if not more interested in the free ice cream and the sprinkler set up by the Goldsboro Fire Department.

"We're having fun," said Wendee Casto as she walked her dog Flopsee through the parade. "We never get the dog out with two kids. This is a chance to get her and the kids out."

Letting her children get out and have fun is important to Mrs. Casto since her 3-year-old son Mick recently had open-heart surgery.

"There was a small hole in his heart, and they had to go in an repair it," Mrs. Casto said. "They said he'll never have problems with it again though."

Mick proudly showed off his "hero scar" as he marched down the street.

Though there were plenty of dogs to play with, Mick and his sister Anna Lee, 7, said their favorite part of the day was the free doughnuts Krispy Kreme gave out.

"You know, after open-heart surgery I don't mind the little things like doughnuts anymore," Mrs. Casto said.

With so many proud pet owners showing off to each other, there was an element of competition in the air. Several dogs entered contests for biggest, smallest, cutest and "a face only a parent could love."

Brittany Harper had the edge over the competition for smallest with her 8-ounce hedgehog named Maddox.

"I just love my hedgehog," she said, smoothing back his spines. "Nobody else has one. They're fun, they're cute, they're unique."

Ms. Harper said people were surprised to see how cuddly Maddox was.

"When I watch movies he'll sit in my lap and go to sleep. He's not too prickly. And he travels easy," she said, placing him back in her purse.

Dominating the scene were Jill Williams' two Polish Tatra sheep dogs, or "polar bears" as she called them.

Noble, the larger of the two brothers, weighed in at a whopping 160 pounds to win the trophy for biggest dog.

"They're wonderful dogs," Mrs. Williams said, petting the white fluffy mane on Noble and his brother, Squire.

Mrs. Williams said she and her husband got Noble from an abusive home where he was locked in a crate 24 hours a day. She came out to show her support for the Wayne County Humane Society, especially its spay and neuter programs.

"We wouldn't have as many animals in sad situations if more people spayed and neutered," said Nancy Reeves, a volunteer with the Humane Society. "But it's not cheap."

The Spay-Neuter Assistance Program of North Carolina came to the parade to offer $5 off services for June.

Other volunteers also were on a mission as several from the Wayne County Animal Shelter were showing off dogs for adoption.

Volunteer Amy Garofalo showed off a Chihuahua mix named Rusty with an orange "Adopt Me" vest to parents and children.

"There's a lot of work involved," she said, discussing how she dedicates her time to saving animals like Rusty. "And there's a lot of sad cases."

Though she can't save all the animals in the shelter, Ms. Garofalo said she and other volunteers do the best they can to get them into loving homes.

And sometimes, she said, working with dogs is better than working with people.