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Dogs have their day at annual Bark in the Park event
Ceil Thompson helps Terrier Gracie show her obedience skills to judges during the third annual Bark in the Park event at Midtown Greenway, Sunday, in Gainesville. Gracie took first-place ribbons in three different events including the costume contest, look-a-like and most obedient. - photo by CHARLES PHELPS

Families and their furry friends filled the Midtown Greenway Sunday afternoon for a day of paws and laughter.

Dogs of different breeds and their owners came to the Gainesville Parks and Recreation Department’s third annual Bark in the Park.

The event featured many contests for different pooches, including best smile, tail, dressed and costume.

There were also different pet vendors, including the Humane Society of Northeast Georgia, in attendance to support and bring awareness for pets.

“I think it went well,” said Laura Demby, the recreation’s program coordinator. “The dogs that come tend to love it, and so do the owners. They love that we’re actually doing something with dogs in the community.

“I’m a dog person and I love it, absolutely love it.”

The fee to enter the contest was $2. Demby said the money helps every aspect of the parks and recreation department including its sports, events and parks.

She also said another animal event is scheduled for later this year.

“Dogs are our best friends most of the time,” Demby said. “My dog at home...I love him. He’s the happy face I see every time I go home. He runs up to you and jumps on you. So, we try to give back, even (if) it’s to the dogs in the community.”

Ceil Thompson of Gainesville entered her two dogs, Gracie, a terrier, and Noodles, a cockapoo, into many of Sunday’s contests.

Gracie took three first-place ribbons: One in the costume contest, where she dawned a 1970s’ disco-style look, the most obedient, where she rolled over, sat and shook hands, and the look-alike contest.

Thompson thanked God for her two dogs because she rescued them both from dire situations, and they are her family now.

“I’m so proud of my kids,” she said. “We had a great time. This is what Sundays are for.”

Joy Banks, along with her niece, Ansley Banks, 6, entered Lizzie, a Havanese breed, into several contests.

Lizzie dawned a tutu during the costume contest and took first place in the cutest, small-dog competition.

Ansley walked her down the Greenway during each contest.

“It was an event we were looking forward to,” Joy said. “We’re always looking for something new to do, and there’s always something to do (in Gainesville). It was a beautiful day, so, we decided to come out and have fun.

“We actually borrowed (Lizzie) from my mom.”

She joked if the contest also had featured a category for the longest tongue, Lizzie would’ve taken first place in that contest, too.