ELIZABETHTOWN — It was a pretty “ruff” night in Elizabethtown on Friday.
The evening marked the inaugural Bladen County Pet Palooza, an effort to raise money for an animal exercise area at the Bladen County Animal Shelter. Held at the National Guard Armory and the new Lloyd Park, the event kicked off with a ribbon-cutting for the new dog park at the site.
“We want to thank you, Dr. (Samuel) Cross and your wife, Denise, for all you have done to make this possible,” said Pet Palooza organizer Charlotte Smith.
The ribbon-cutting was met with cheers from bystanders.
The thunder and lightning had driven the vendors inside the Armory, where pet services ranging from grooming and veterinary care to boarding and adoption were found, along with pet-related businesses like a bird sanctuary, and even a bank.
Every so often the screech of a parrot rang out, emanating from 70-year old Charlie from the Cape Fear Parrot Sanctuary.
“He doesn’t like to hear dogs bark,” said owner Ces Erdman, who has lived with Charlie for the last 12 years.
“Although the humor wore off a long time ago, it can still sometimes be funny when one parrot barks like a dog and the other says, ‘Shut up!’” he laughed. “They just keep going back and forth, barking, and yelling.”
The duo had art work by Charlie — known as the Picasso of Parrots — for sale at the event.
“He had to do something to start earning his keep,” Erdman joked. He added the prints sometimes sell for $1,400, money that is put toward the non-profit, the only sanctuary of its kind in the state.
Treat bags were given out for dogs who did tricks, like 1-year old Pomeranian Benny and 3-year old Boxer Bella, both of whom won t-shirts for their humans and toys for themselves. Bella was there with two humans and and her boyfriend, a fellow Boxer.
“I think it’s great that Bladen County does something like this,” said Doris McArthur, who brought her two grandchildren from Wilmington. “The children were enough to handle, so we didn’t bring dogs, but if they do this again, I’ll have to bring them. My two cats will stay at home, though — they’re not really into people. Or dogs.”
Canines were the pet of choice for guests. Boxers, Aussie doodles, Pomeranians, Great Danes, and more than a few mixed breeds spent most of their time in the armory checking each other out.
Plenty of treats were distributed, and several vendors had goodies like Frisbees, collars, tags, and chew toys to pass around. The Barking Lot was giving out free nail trims for guests with four legs, along with advice on pet grooming.
Outside, in between in the Armory and the park, Loose Floorboards provided the entertainment for the evening. The Bladen County band and local favorite played a variety of classic rock, country, oldies, and beach music for the crowd after guests had visited the vendors.
“I think things turned out well,” remarked Smith.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163.