Sun smiles on return of Petpalooza at Auburn’s Game Farm Park

On their way to one of Petpalooza’s popular events, a woman was overheard trying to calm her husband’s concern about the fallout should he and his dog come out winners in the human-pet look-alike contest.

“No, it would be a compliment to say you looked like her,” the woman soothed.

The man looked unconvinced.

That was just a small part of the fun atAuburn’s critter spectacular on its return to Game Farm Park on May 21, following two years of COVID-19-induced absence.

The sun smiled on the festivities, and a crowd estimated at 15,000 smiled back, accompanied by a chorus of barking, squealing, meowing and oinking.

The day kicked off with a Dog Trot 3K/5K Fun Run, followed by an animal-related entertainment stage, flydog and agility demos, the Northwest Pet Contest, an agility area, a variety of vendor booths, adoptions, giveaways and lots of activities to keep humans and pets entertained.

“People have been having a good time, and there has been a wide variety of pets as usual,” said Cheryl Sallee, former director of the Auburn Senior Center, happily retired but there to work the city’s booth and answer questions.

Questions like “where’s the food court,” “where’s the bathroom,” and then “where’s Mud Bay?” said part time Parks, Arts and Recreation employee John Gasby, adding that Mud Bay was a sponsor but didn’t have a booth this year.

Gasby looked about, then summed up the general feeling of the day.

“‘Bout time that we had some decent weather. We had a wet and cold spring,” Gasby said.

Ethan Go of Kent brought his 7-month-old Bengal cat, Zuko, and her 4-month old companion, Mello, and the spotted creatures quickly took their places among the stars of the day’s feline contingent, as cat lover after cat lover stopped by to coo at the kitties.

“Oh, he’s so happy with you,” Go said to a woman as the amiable Zuko cozied up to her.

“I really like this event, the size and the scale of it is awesome, all the events, how it is organized, all the food and play things,” Go said.

Sue Smith came up from Tacoma with Heiley, her 16-year-old rat terrier.

“She’s blind so she can’t see anything, so she’s sniffing a lot,” Smith explained, cradling the tiny dog in her arms. “We’re growing old together.”

Beth Carrole worked at the booth of Old Pet Haven, which takes on unadoptable senior canines to find them permanent foster homes. The organization also provides the animals under its wing medical care for the rest of their lives, said Carrole, a sponsor herself.

“Nothing like sponsoring an old dog, and nothing like the love of an old dog. They just give triple the love back,” said Carrole, cradling 13-year-old Meesa, fresh from surgery to remove a bladder stone and the removal of four bad teeth.

As she spoke, a man nearby announced to the woman at his side his plans for the rest of the day — plans that included a brief but meaningful stop at the Yappy Hour Beer Garden.

“I’ll slam a beer, and then we’ll go watch the pigs,” he said.