PORT CHARLOTTE — Miss Sparkles was always a bride and never a bridesmaid in her custom-made wedding gown, which she wore to the “Howl-o-ween” party at Cats n Dogs pet shop in Port Charlotte on Sunday.
A timber wolf, a grey wolf and a dog dressed as a wolf were also among the pets that showed up for the event, which served as a fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Nancy Okun, owner of Cats n Dogs on Tamiami Trail, hosted the festive bash with the intention of donating all profits from the raffle to the cause.
“We want to raise awareness about cancer,” she said. “Not only in humans but also for dogs. So many people lose a family member to cancer — and dogs are part of the family too. Education and awareness about the disease is a big part of it.”
Okun has personal ties to the disease. Her father died of pancreatic cancer and she said several of her friends had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
“It’s an illness that has touched the lives of everyone,” she said.
There were fairy dogmothers, firedogs, superdogs and a greyhound dressed as a greyhound bus driver. Dogs “shook a leg” at the pet party in hopes of winning one of the coveted prizes including food, toys and gift cards from Clean K-9, a local portable grooming business.
Prizes were awarded for costumes. Best pet costume went to Bella, an American pitbull that dressed as the Beatles’ “Yellow Submarine.”
The award for closest pet/human lookalike
was given to Jill Hagmen, not because of her costume, but because her shade of hair exactly matched the color of her “multigree.”
Award for longest tail went to Lucy, a greyhound dressed as a greyhound bus driver. Lucy was in full uniform complete with hat, badge and keys.
“We sewed her costume out of kids clothing,” said Irv Furman, Lucy’s owner. “We ordered the badge on eBay.”
An American boxer won the award for biggest paws, while Miss Sparkles’ dainty foot took home the prize for smallest paws.
Holly Yager-Torres, who runs a wolf rescue facility in Port Charlotte, didn’t dress up her wolves, but instead dressed like a wolf herself.
“Wolves are not like other animals,” she said of her grey and timber breeds. “A lot of owners don’t realize what they are getting into when they adopt one. They are not dogs.”
Carol Bicsak, owner Down to Earth Apparel and Gifts, also raised money for cancer just a few doors down. Bicsak and Okun, who are business neighbors, have been jointly hosting the fundraiser for the last two years.
Several other happenings occurred in Bicsak’s “hippie paradise,” where guests could learn about yoga, organics and spiritual progression.
William Ward calmed the senses by playing crystal bowls, a healing process that helps people meditate with vibrations. Ward said the vibrations also encourage dog relaxation. Bicsak said she uses the technique while photographing dogs, a side business she runs out of her retail shop.
Cheri Lee, a local organic wholesaler, who also attended the event, said she dehydrates her leftover sweet potatoes, turning them into organic rawhide treats for dogs.