McCORDSVILLE — With show categories such as “Waggiest Tail,” “Ugliest Dog” and “Best Dog-Shaming Sign,” the Westminster Dog Show it ain’t, but Harper’s Best of Mutts Show promises to be a lot less stuffy, and three times the fun.
Harper’s Best of Mutts Show is set for noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 26 at McCordsville Town Hall Park, 6280 W. County Road 800N, McCordsville.
This fundraiser for local animal rescue groups is the brainchild of McCordsville resident Summer Harper. At age 32, she is a non-traditional student at IUPUI, a senior in the Tourism, Convention and Event Management program, so event planning is her strong suit.
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She has always enjoyed watching the televised Westminster Dog Show but knew it was something that her dogs, and countless other loyal and worthy canines, could never participate in. So she got the idea to create an event to celebrate mutts.
With her educational focus and a background in helping with such events as charity golf tournaments, McCordsville’s Community Day and Building a Brighter McCordsville, she knew she could make it work.
“I wanted to do some good,” Harper said, “and build an awareness for animal adoption and shelters.”
Harper herself has four dogs, all rescues: Bella, an 8-year-old pit bull mix from the Indy Humane Society; Lyla, a 7-year-old American Eskimo mix from the Madison County Humane Society; Maggie, a 2-year-old Chihuahua mix rescued from a Facebook garage sale site; and Archer, a 2-year-old dachshund-terrier mix from the Alliance for Responsible Pet Ownership. Archer is the model for the Best of Mutts Show logo.
With the event slogan “Big or small, let’s house them all,” it’s no surprise that the proceeds from this event will benefit animal rescue organizations such as the Partnership for Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) and the Hancock County Humane Society.
Harper was very pleased with last year’s inaugural event turnout of 25 to 30 dogs and between 80 and 100 people. She hopes to at least double that number with this year’s event. According to Harper, last year’s efforts raised $1,000 shared between three animal rescue groups.
“It turned out better than I could have ever imagined,” Harper said.
The event has lots to offer. In addition to vendors for both two-legged and four-legged attendees, there will be food, children’s activities and a silent auction. For an extra fee, you can get your picture taken at the photo booth ($5), get your dog washed ($10) or “Paint With Your Pup” ($5). Make a donation to uswardogs.org (a list of needs can be found on the website) and get a free ice cream sundae.
The real entertainment, however, is the Best of Mutts Show. According to Harper, each category has its own charm. In last year’s “Best-Dressed Dog” category, a Maltese came dressed as Yoda, and another dog and her owner both dressed up as characters from “Frozen.”
“In the ‘Best of Puppy’ category, there was a Great Dane mix looking down at a Maltese mix that was looking up at the Great Dane while they waited to find out who won. It was the cutest thing,” Harper said.
Dogs are allowed to participate in more than one category, and the judge is helped out by audience applause as to which mutt is the winner for each division. For the final category and the overall Best of Show Mutt award, the winners from each of the previous categories reassemble in the ring for a final judging. The Best of Show Mutt for 2014 (and winner in the Most Obedient category) was Levi, who wowed the crowd with his Frisbee tricks.
Harper is excited about a new category this year, the “Best of Dog-Shaming Signs” category, an idea she got from Facebook.
Registration to participate in the judging for the Best of Mutt Show is just $15, but admission to the event is free. For more information about Harper’s Best of Mutt Show, visit harpers bestofmutts.com.