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Doggone it! Pets, owners gather for holiday day of fun, giving

By MARINA WATERS

Staff Writer

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There was a howlin’ good time had by all in downtown Jonesborough on Saturday.

The town’s Doggone Christmas event included dog owners and furry friends of all sizes to celebrate the holiday season as part of the Christmas in Olde Jonesborough event series.

Santa Clause sat in his sleigh as pet parents lined up to snap a picture of his or her dog with old Kris Kringle himself while a pet parade travelled down Main Street in a myriad of costumes.

But it wasn’t all just for fun.

The Humane Society of Washington County came out to celebrate the Christmas season but to also help local animals. Current president Lucinda Grady says the number of homeless animals is growing with more than 200 animals in foster care.

“Anything that can bring awareness to us, that’s great” Grandy said, “because we’re not the animal shelter. We’re a no-kill rescue and we pull animals from all of our local shelters — especially with animals that are not readily adoptable that people look over because they’re not pretty.”

Of course, there is no reason that — while helping the cause —  these pooches couldn’t also look fashionable.

Wearing fun winter garb from Santa hats to reindeer antlers, dogs who had entered in everything from the ugliest Christmas dog sweater and best holiday costume contests to the pet/owner lookalike contest took over downtown.

But no one enjoyed the costumes quite as much as the owners.

Angela Mayhew from Kingsport brought her 11-year-old Pomeranian named Kita to Doggone Christmas for their first year at the event. But Mayhew admitted the main reason she came to Jonesborough was Kita’s Christmas costume.

“(I’m here) just because I like to decorate her up and bring her out and show her off,” Mayhew said. “She probably would rather not have it on, but she does really good, doesn’t she?”

Small dogs weren’t the only canines having fun. Joseph Michaels brought his Irish Wolfhound, one of the tallest dog breeds in the world, to downtown — not for looks, but rather for socialization.

“It’s real convenient and gives us a chance to take the dogs out and let them socialize, which is good for him,” Michaels said. “You don’t want to have a dog that is this size and is not used to people.”

Though Michaels’ dog in particular was a large spectacle at the event, owning an Irish Wolfhound goes deeper than just having a furry companion—it’s part of a childhood dream, he said.

“My mom’s family’s Irish and she used to tell me about the wolfhounds in Ireland when she was a kid,” Michaels recalled. “It took a long time before I could afford to have a house and a yard and a fence. But she always told me stories about them so I wanted one.”

For those who’ve always wanted a cat, Saturday didn’t completely go to the dogs; the Humane Society of Washington County also featured their Cat Adoption Day at the Library Saturday morning as a way to get more of their feline friends adopted out.

“The director came and he wanted to work more with local organizations and bring awareness to nonprofits, and he picked us,” Grandy said. “It’s been a success. We’ve adopted four cats out already this morning and received donations down there.”

Whether these animal people and their four-legged friends were downtown for an adoption or for a picture with Santa, the love between humans and their pets was celebrated in Jonesborough this past Saturday with a particular cause in mind. The money raised at Doggone Christmas and the donations collected by the Humane Society of Washington County all go toward aiding pets and pet owners in Gatlinburg.

After the mountain town suffered a fire disaster which claimed over 700 homes and businesses last week, many humans and pets alike were left without a home. That’s where Grandy and many concerned citizens come in.

“We’re asking for donations and people can bring stuff by,” said Grandy. “Right now they’ve gotten stuff and they don’t need anything, but in two weeks they’ll need some more. So we’re letting it pile up and then in two weeks we’ll head back down there.”

“Because they’ll use what they’ve got, but they’ll run through it very quickly.”