McCullough Field went to the dogs Sunday, Sept. 22 as more than 30 of man's best friends and their families gathered for the fifth annual Dog Days of Summer show, sponsored by Laurel Parks and Recreation.

At this year's competition, the Senior Dog, Best Puppy and Best Pair of Dogs categories were replaced with Best Large Dog, Best Medium Dog and Best Small Dog. Volunteer judges — Eileen Collins of the Citizens Advisory Committee and Laurel City Council members Michael Leszcz and Donna Crary — awarded prize ribbons in eight categories for first, second and third place and honorable mention. Finalists then competed for Best in Show.

Between contests, emcee and recreations program specialist Bonny DuCote raffled off door prizes donated by Rocky Gorge Animal Hospital, Einstein Brothers Bagels, Pet Barn and Peaceful Tails. 

Local vendors Mountain Made Memories, dog walker Monique Glover and Cindy Venasco from All Dogs Club set up table displays. Venasco gave away generous samples of veterinary pet supplies.

Minor changes to last year's roster eliminated the Most Obedient category, which didn't seem to bother the well-behaved contestants as they lined up outside the show ring, mingled with other tail waggers or visited the cooling station stocked with kiddie pools, water and doggy duty bags.

Having fun overshadowed pedigrees and formal training. Dogs of all sorts, from purebred athletes to mixed breeds and toy companion animals, made new friends and lapped up the admiration of humans.

Juno, a red Doberman who lives with Molly Jean Baublitz, won first place in Best Large Dog and second place in Terrific Pet Tricks. Baublitz said she adopted the 14-month old from the group Doberman Assistance, Rescue and Education.

First-time competitor Tugboat took third place in Best Large Dog. At 150 pounds, the Newfoundland, owned by Amburr and Liz Reese, stood out from the crowd as much for his mellow nature as he did for his size.

"He tends to be a couch potato," said Amburr Reese, "and we have to make sure he gets enough exercise."

Adrian Charley's red chow Teddy competed in the annual show two years ago as half of a pair. This year he won first place in the Best Medium Dog category and Best in Show. 

Organized by recreation program specialist DuCote for the third year, the contest categories encouraged creativity.

Nine-year-old Haley Bateman of Laurel dressed for the event, wearing her first communion dress and a curly hairstyle to match the family's white toy poodle, Prince. 

Haley's mom said they almost didn't adopt Prince, who won first place in Best Small Dog and third place in Looks Most Like Owner.

"We had lost our doggy and went to replace her," she said. "Haley wanted Prince, but he had been promised to another family. We took another dog home … [and] two days later the shelter called and said we could have him. … and so we ended up with two."

Sporting a purple butterfly costume, mixed breed Chihuahua Gracie won first place in the Best Dressed category. According to pet parent Sandra Detro, Gracie and her adopted sister, Ginger, are "true princesses with a full wardrobe."

Danielle Butcher, 11, and her dog Lilly masqueraded as matching bumblebees to take first place in Looks Most Like Owner. 

DuCote said this year's participation was down a little, with just more than 30 dogs registering compared to about 50 last year and 60 the year before.

Laurel resident Susie Keys said that her daughter, Lisa, entered their dog Westley just for fun. Westley ended up winning three ribbons.

"The weather was amazing, the rain held off and the people were fun. This was very entertaining," Keys said.

Winning dogs and owners