BANGOR, Maine — There was a moment during Saturday morning’s Paws on Parade event when Suzan Bell turned around and looked at the line of participants behind her.
“We were on Main Street, almost up to West Market Square, and I looked back and it was just people and dogs, all the way up Main,” said Bell, the executive director of the Bangor Humane Society. “I thought, this is the most amazing thing, the love between humans and their pets, the lucky humans who get to share their lives with these amazing dogs.”
Paws on Parade, now in its 16th year, allows humans and dogs the chance to frolic on the Bangor Waterfront while acting as a fundraiser for the Bangor Humane Society.
The final tally looked to be about $30,000, Bell announced to the crowd, which included around 150 dogs. Although the number of dogs registered this year was probably around the same as in previous years, Bell said, the total giving was down from last year’s $41,000.
“The economy, between now and then, has definitely had an impact,” she said, minutes before a man came forward with a folded $5 bill as a donation. “I think we had the same number of donors but the gifts are smaller.”
The humane society relies entirely on private donations.
The downtown parade lasted approximately 30 minutes, with a shortcut for smaller or older dogs that couldn’t handle it. A sprinkle of rain after the walk and fundraising announcement caused most humans and dogs to scatter, but not before some agility and flyball demonstrations and a costume contest.
Pokey, a male Chihuahua-rat terrier mix who will celebrate his fourth birthday on Halloween, won the contest for wearing a bright yellow block of cheese on his head. It was a nod to fans, including owner Patrick Schwarz of Bangor, of the National Football League’s Green Bay Packers, whose fans are called Cheeseheads.
Schwarz decided to attend Paws on Parade for one simple reason.
“I love animals,” he said. “That’s why I’m here.”
Schwarz said Pokey hasn’t necessarily stayed allied with the Packers now that the team’s longtime star quarterback, Brett Favre, is playing for the rival Minnesota Vikings.
“He’s got a purple [cheesehead] with [Favre’s uniform number] on it for Monday night’s game, and I’m going to switch it [depending] on who’s winning,” Schwarz said of the coming showdown between the two teams.