Pups, owners share throne in second Mardi Paws parade

BATON ROUGE, LA -- Not long ago, Kodi lived in squalid conditions with dozens of other cats and dogs.

But on Sunday, the Australian Shepherd was treated like royalty.

Kodi was queen of the Mystic Krewe of Mutts for the second annual Mardi Paws parade. About 700 costumed dogs and their owners paraded down North Boulevard, said Sarah Kracke, a parade organizer.

Kodi's owners, Kim and Keith Ricks, adopted her from the Capital Area Animal Welfare Society, a nonprofit animal adoption agency, over a year ago.

When CAAWS found Kodi, she was neglected and malnourished.

''When we brought her home, she was very afraid of us,'' Kim Ricks said.

After a lot of love and affection, she became a friendly dog.

Kodi's endurance led CAAWS to choose her as the parade's queen, said Kim Cornelison, CAAWS president.

''It's a rags to riches story,'' Kim Ricks said. ''She's never seen anything like this.''

The Mardi Paws king, a golden retriever named Max, is also a CAAWS adoptee.

''We fell in love with him,'' said Harold Wexler, Max's owner.

Max and Kodi, dressed in red robes with jeweled crowns, were toasted by the owners at the end of the parade.

''They've spared no expense for the king and queen,'' Wexler said.

The dogs in the parade were dressed in costumes ranging from Mardi Gras beads to elaborate outfits that matched their owners' costumes.

A boxer named Liberty Belle and her owner, Sunshine Ortego, were dressed as genies. Both wore sheer blue, cropped genie shirts, matching bottoms and had blue scarves drawn across their faces.

''She loves all the dogs,'' Ortego said of Liberty Belle. ''She's truly a belle; she loves being dressed up.''

Many owners were dressed as elaborately as their dogs. Some said they loved being dressed up as much as their dogs did.

''It's fun,'' said Pat Hamilton who was dressed as Napoleon Bonaparte. His dog, Chche, was a bumble bee.

''He likes it, too,'' Hamilton said.

Some owners even gave their dogs stage names to match their parade costumes.

David Kinberger and Joey Paille dressed themselves and their whippets as cows and farmers.

Kinberger and his whippet, Mignon, were cows. Mignon wore a sign that read ''eat more chikin.''

Paille and his whippet, Honor, were dressed as farmers.

The dogs' names for the day were ''Minnie Moo'' and ''Paw Paw Too.''

Parade onlookers caught beads thrown by owners in the parade, and some threw treats at the dogs.

Some onlookers brought their own dogs.

Nine-year-old Kendell Richter brought her border collie, Niki, to watch the dogs in the parade. Kendell said she liked the parade mostly because of the costumes.

''My favorite was a wiener dog in a hot dog bun,'' Richter said.

Another girl bore the brunt of one dog's weariness when Buddy, a golden retriever, sat on her foot.

''He was shaking a little girl's hand, but I think he was using that as an excuse to stop because he's tired,'' said Robert Kirkley, Buddy's owner.

At the end of the parade, Buddy jumped into a plastic pool full of drinking water set up for the dogs and lay down until Kirkley dragged him out.

Kirkley said he brought Buddy to the parade because it is fun for his children, Bobby and Becky.

''It's a good family parade, and the kids get to show off their dogs,'' he said.

Kirkley also said the parade was for a good cause.

CAAWS collected registration fees and accepted contributions Sunday. The fees and donations totaled about $13,000, and proceeds will go to CAAWS.

At the end of the parade, the dogs and their owners participated in contests.

Winners of the pet and owner look-alike contest were:

*Ortego and her dog, Liberty Belle, first place.

*Kinberger and his dog, Mignon, and Paille and his dog, Honor, second place.

*Marilyn Durham and her dog, Chloe, third place.

Winners in the best costume contest were:

*Charles Campo and his dogs, Ivana and Maxwell, first place.

*Stephanie Bradeu and her dogs, Slater and Kelsey, second place.

*Joy Geautreaux and her dog, Jodie, third place.

Winners in the best trick contest were:

*Lynn Maxwell and her dogs, Ginger and Mary Anne, first place.

*Debbie Fowler and her dog, Madison, second place.

*Nathan Lambey and his dog, Harley, third place.