On Martha’s Vineyard, dogs rule

Most of the canines behaved like veteran marchers most of the time during the parade. — Photo by Lynn Christoffers

Owners trotted out hundreds of pooches at the Ag Fair’s always popular dog show last Sunday morning. Plenty came from away, but Island dogs were well represented.

A golden retriever, one of the most popular breeds on the Vineyard according to show steward Rosemarie Haigazian, took home the top prize. Navi the Golden owned by Linda Handy of Edgartown, the golden Navi was awarded the Best in Show ribbon, beating out stiff competition in both her breed and the sporting dog category, which includes the other most popular breed — the Labrador retrievers.

Four rings and an obedience ring were run simultaneously to handle the dozens of breeds. After the best in each breed was selected, the winners competed in eight categories, including mixed breeds. A panel of nine judges, using AKC standards, was on hand to determine the winners. Ms. Haigazian, an Edgartown attorney who has been working at the dog show for 36 years, said that the Vineyard show is the only one she is aware of that has a category for mixed breeds — the most popular group. Ms. Haigazian was, as always assisted by her two sons, John Robichau and J.B. Robichau, along with J.B.’s wife, Shuchi Saraswat, and “an army of volunteers.”

At Good Dog Goods in Oak Bluffs on Thursday, Norman Bridwell, author of the “Clifford, the Big Red Dog” books, entertained some youngsters with a visit and a drawing lesson. John Bacheller of Vineyard Haven had successfully bid on this dream visit at the Possible Dreams Auction earlier this month and was able to treat his grandchildren and some of their friends to an afternoon with the legendary children’s author. After distributing a book inscribed with a hand-drawn picture to each of the six kids in attendance, Mr. Bridwell and his wife Norma sat down to lunch in the garden with the kids and a group of adults. For a record 32 years, Mr. Bridwell has been donating a dream to the auction, which this year raised more than $250,000 for Martha’s Vineyard Community Services.

Another Possible Dreams Auction winner led the second annual Good Dog Goods Dog Parade on Sunday evening. The opportunity to have your dog serve as Grand Marshall has been an auction item for the three years that the parade has been in existence and this year Ron and Stephanie Oboler of Montreal and Chilmark won the top dog honors for their 15-year-old wire-haired rat terrier, Lady.

After a short blessing by Rev. Jeff Winter of the Faith Community Church, the youthful Lady led the way as the dogs snaked around the paved paths of Ocean Park. While the paparazzi snapped away on the sidelines, the pooches seemed more interested in checking out the other marchers than maintaining parade formation. Around 70 dogs, from AKC champions to lovable mongrels, marched with their owners after enjoying the canine meet-and-greet before the main event.