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Chambersburg lets the dogs out for Fido's First Friday

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CHAMBERSBURG - In answer to the popular question, it was the Downtown Business Council and Council for the Arts who let the dogs out, downtown Friday evening.

Dozens of dogs of all colors, sizes and breeds took over Memorial Square and the surrounding area for September's First Friday, dubbed Fido's First Friday and dedicated to man's best friend.

The biggest draw of the evening's festivities was the dog contest, which featured three different categories: Cutest Dog, A Face Only A Mother Could Love, and Best Trick. Program coordinator and Council for the Arts member Sherree Devor was one of three judges for the contest, and she had a hard time picking a winner.

"It was hard in the fact that it was hard to pick a winner because there were so many of them that were cute," Devor said. "I was happy to see so many people bring their dogs out and really happy to see how well-behaved the dogs were."

In addition to the contest, several canine-related organizations and businesses were scattered throughout downtown to promote themselves and the love of dogs. They included the Cumberland Valley Animal Shelter, Summit Search and Rescue, Operation Save-a-Vet, Save-a-Pet outreach program, and Kindly Canines of Chambersburg. But it was the contest that had dogs and owners crowded together in Courthouse Plaza to see which ones would take home top honors.

The furry participants could enter multiple categories and were called up by name and paraded around in front of the judges and viewers. When the results were tallied, there were two ties, one in the Cutest Dog and the other in the A Face Only A Mother Could Love, which meant all finalists were asked to come forward for one more look before the final decisions could be made.

Skeeter, a mixed breed, won for having A Face Only A Mother Could Love. Ida, another mixed breed, won the Best Trick category by doing catching a tennis ball in her mouth in mid-air. Buddi, a Pomeranian-Papillon-fox terrier mix was named Cutest Dog. This was Buddi's first time participating in a contest like this.

"We just entered to enter. I've never entered him in anything like this before," Pamela Slinkard, Buddi's owner said. "I thought 'what could it hurt?' I'm just glad the judges chose him."

Ruth Douglas, Skeeter's owner, had Skeeter in both the Face and Best Trick categories, and had her beagle, Julie, entered in the Cutest Dog category. Julie was runner-up in the Cutest Dog category last year, and Skeeter brought home the hardware in the "Face" category this year.

"I like to go to different dog events. It's a nice event for the dogs," Douglas said of Chambersburg's First Friday event. "It's nice that they have this event."

If owning her pug Bella, wasn't enough proof that she loves pugs, Jessi Torzillo's shirt helped clear up any lingering doubts. Hot pink with a giant picture of a pug's face on it, it had the words "Pug Luv" accompanying the picture. Torzillo had heard about the contest, and she was off work, so she brought Bella down to the square and entered her in the Face and Cutest categories.

"I like meeting other dog owners and it's a good time for the dogs to socialize with other dogs," Torzillo said.

David Barr, 717-881-7020