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Happy Howlidays: Shepherd University hosts community dog parade

By Tabitha Johnston - Chronicle Staff | Dec 18, 2020

The Howliday Dog Parade winners stand together in front of Erma Ora Byrd Hall on Saturday. From left, third place winner Charles Town Middle School student Lillian Angel with two-year-old German Shepherd "Santa's Reindeer" Xadyn, first place winner Shepherd University Provost Scott Beard with 10-year-old pug "Santa's Reindeer" Murphy and second place winner Erin Short, of Sharpsburg, stands with 10-year-old Golden Retriever rescue "Present" Henry. Tabitha Johnston

SHEPHERDSTOWN — Dogs in Christmas-themed costumes stood six-feet-apart with their owners on the sidewalk along North King Street on Saturday morning, to participate in Shepherd University’s first annual Howliday Dog Parade.

The parade idea came from SU President Mary J.C. Hendrix herself, as a way to bring Christmas cheer to the community in a socially distanced way.

“It’s mostly because so many of the town events were cancelled,” Hendrix said, referring to the town’s annual Christmas parade and other Christmas in Shepherdstown events. “We wanted to do something that was safe and inviting for everyone to come. And we knew the town loves dogs, so we thought this would be a great idea!”

According to Hendrix, the parade was unanimously approved by the town council and mayor. After she came up with the initial inspiration, she passed it along to be organized by Shepherd University staff members Amy Speck and Shelby Maly. Shepherdstown resident Paul Garrard offered to join them in helping to organize the event, and also became the donor for the parade prize winners: a $100 Petco gift card for first place, a $50 Petco gift card for second place and a $25 Petco gift card for third place.

“I knew Dr. Hendrix — I’m a big supporter of Shepherd University — and I have a dog, so I wanted to help bring this event to life,” Garrard said.

Vehicles drive down the Howliday Dog Parade route on Saturday morning. Tabitha Johnston

Along with providing the prizes at the event, Garrard was also busy throughout it, as he walked up to the vehicles of community members who had driven the parade route, to choose which dogs deserved to win the prizes. Each driver could vote three times, designated by Garrard placing a dog treat in a bucket for each of the respective participating dogs. Each dog’s treat “votes” were given to it at the end of the hour-long event.

Participation as a dog owner or voter in the parade was free. However, the number of dogs that could be registered online to participate in the event had to be capped at 35, to ensure the parade accurately followed social distancing guidelines.

According to Garrard, one reason he believed so strongly in the parade was because of how it would help the Briggs Animal Adoption Center and Jefferson County Animal Welfare Society, which were both on-hand at the event to share information about their organizations.

“We are accepting monetary donations and food, which we’ll be dividing between the two shelters,” Garrard said, mentioning both participating dog owners and voters were giving donations.

At the end of the event, the dog treat votes were tabulated, revealing the first place winner to be SU Provost Scott Beard with his 10-year-old pug, Murphy; the second place winner to be Erin Short, of Sharpsburg, with her 10-year-old Golden Retriever rescue, Henry; and the third place winner to be Charles Town Middle School student Lillian Angel with her two-year-old German Shepherd, Xadyn. After the awards presentation, Beard announced he would be donating his gift card to the Jefferson County Animal Welfare Society.

Shepherd University Project Coordinator for HRSA IMPACT Grant Kayla Landsberger and her two-year-old Australian Shepherd, Scarlet, dressed as a gift, greet drivers by on the Howliday Dog Parade route Saturday morning. Tabitha Johnston

Following the awards presentation came possibly the most exciting news of the event — the parade had raised a large amount of dog food and $700. That monetary amount was then matched by an anonymous donor, ensuring both animal shelters would receive $700 from the event.

“We’re planning to do this again next year, bigger and better!” Garrard said with a broad smile on his face, after hearing the positive news.

Eight-year-old Isabella Burns, Megan Camilletti and six-year-old Yorkshire Terrier Dexter, dressed as the "Holy Hound," all of Charles Town, greet drivers by along the parade route on Saturday afternoon. Tabitha Johnston

Shepherd University business professor Janine Sam and her seven-year-old Schnauzer-Chihuahua mix Jensen participate in Saturday's parade dressed identically as Frosty the Snowman. Tabitha Johnston

Shepherd University senior Kristina Kandalis participates in the Howliday Dog Parade with her eight-year-old chihuahua Pomeranian mix, Lucy, on Saturday. Tabitha Johnston