Pooches parade for Mardi Gras with Barkus Krewe

Published 12:53 am Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Chase Wheat, Batman mask firmly in place, stood next to his Bat Mobile on Sunday. Duncan McDoogal, who clung to his solemn dignity during the tomfoolery, was costumed as the Joker.

Chase, 5, with his parents, Melissa and Terry, had traveled 35 miles from Picayune, Miss., to take part in the annual Mardi Gras celebration of man’s best friend, the Mystic Krewe of Barkus parade.

Hundreds turned out Sunday — dogs and people — for the parade, which began in 1993. This year’s theme was BatMutt: The Bark Knight, which accounted for many of the costumes.

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Dogs wore beads, feather boas, costumes with matching hats or crowns, or were simply dyed in the Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold.

A pair of dachshunds marched happily with fake buns attached to their sides and fabric mustard and ketchup on their backs. A weimaraner was a superhero, and an English Bulldog was Carnival royalty for the day, wearing a purple robe trimmed in gold, but refusing the crown his owner tried repeatedly to put on him.

Marla Bernard and her friends, including five dogs, took a political theme. The dogs were labeled, “Bark Obama,” “Secretary of Steak,” “Furriest Lady,” “Joe Bite-em” and “Nancy Paw—losi.”

“We just couldn’t pass it up after the election and the inauguration,” said Bernard, who with her friends wore dark suits and played the part of the secret service.

Proceeds from the parade — the $25 entrance fee, sales of T-shirts and other items — benefit area organizations that rescue dogs.

The king and queen are always rescued dogs — this year both were rescued after Hurricane Katrina.

Paris, a tiny Chihuahua found starving and sick along a street in New Orleans after the 2005 storm, wore a handmade costume complete with feathers and a rhinestone tiara.

King Scrappy Trotta was on the king’s float with his owner Joseph Trotta.

Scrappy, a rescued and abused dog, was lost during Katrina and rescued after the storm while his owners were still evacuated. He was finally located in Santa Fe, N.M., where his new adoptive family agreed to return him to the family that had originally rescued him.

“I knew he missed New Orleans,” said Trotta, as he sat beside Scrappy on the king’s float, unwrapping purple beads with dogs on them to toss to the crowds along the parade route.

On the web: www.barkus.org