HARKER HEIGHTS — Compared to the wild crowds that gather at Lollapaloosa each year, the packs of visitors at Puppypalooza, held Saturday at Carl Levin Park, were remarkably civil.

Socializing was more sniffs than barks.

“It’s a self-selective group of animals who came to this event,” dog owner Bob Whittle of Fort Hood said. “The people who come only bring their dogs if they know they will behave.”

Whittle’s children, Austin, 13, and Avery, 11, spent much of the festival tending to a litter of heeler-mix puppies up for adoption from the Harker Heights Animal Adoption Center.

Albert Musgrove, senior animal control officer at the center, said the mother was brought to the center while she was pregnant.

“Only if they have a good disposition do we put them up for adoption,” Musgrove said.

Just 30 minutes into the festival, someone had already adopted one of the five puppies.

Across the park, Kathryn Leisinger, dean of the School of Wags, a dog training school in Harker Heights, was giving out free advice on teaching dog obedience.

“We got tired of seeing dogs in cages because of bad behavior,” Leisinger said, while petting a large Neapolitan Mastiff named Brick.

Dogs of all shapes, sizes and colors showed up for the unseasonably cool weather.

“It is an opportunity for citizens in this area to come out and meet other dog lovers, to socialize and to visit some of the vendors and maybe contribute to some of the nonprofits,” said Nichole Broemer, the city’s recreation and events coordinator.

The festival booths offered food, dog training, medical information, swimming and several pet adoption agencies.

Highlights of the festival included a dog fashion show and two contests: Best Trick and Best Dog-owner look alike.

James Hicks, one of three judges in the dog-owner look alike contest, said the mistake contestants make each year is using makeup or props to alter their pets appearance.

“It is not ‘can I look like my dog,’ but do I look like my dog,” Hicks said.

Contact Brandon Janes at bjanes@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7552

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