As children and parents prepare for upcoming Halloween festivities and college students wind down from the excitement of the weekend, this past Sunday marked the first time in history that the canines of Madison had a day of their very own to participate in the fun.

The first annual Dog Costume Parade took place at Monroe Street on Oct. 28 for a brief, but exhilarating hour. The slight drizzle and grey skies did nothing to hinder the infectious smiles on the faces of both dogs and dog owners as they made their way from Michael’s Frozen Custard stand to the MadCat pet store.

Although the parade was relatively small, the dogs made up for it with their wild costumes and high energy. Tiny terriers, massive retrievers, and even a wiener dog in a baby carriage all came together for an amusing jaunt down Monroe Street.

Eleanor Bogart-Stuart/The Badger Herald

“I’ve had Baxter for three years. I thought this was a great opportunity to show off his costume while contributing to a great cause,” Kasey Schneider said, owner of mixed-breed Baxter.

All participants in the parade had to pay an enrollment fee, all going to the Dane County Humane Society. The humane society is an organization that, according to their website, “provides refuge, healing, and new beginnings to over 9000 companion, farm and exotic animals.”

Those who did not bring a dog to the parade were still welcomed with open arms — and paws — by the participants. After petting through most of the procession, there was a heartwarming family who caught my attention because of their matching Wizard of Oz costumes.

Eleanor Bogart-Stuart/The Badger Herald

Father and daughter Erika and Nelson Eisman were dressed as the Scarecrow and Wicked Witch of the West, respectively. Their Shiba Inu, Suki, was dressed as Dorothy, while their Scottish Terrier, Molly, dressed up as Toto.

“It was not easy to get Molly into that costume. There were a lot of treats needed for that,” Erika Eisman said.

While Molly seemed uneasy in her get-up, Suki the Shiba Inu was natural in her blue gingham dress. As it turns out, Suki only models dresses in her free time.

Her full-time job is working as a service dog for Eisman. She was found at Hi-Jinx, a Shiba Inu breeder based solely in Madison.

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“We actually are friends with the owners of her brother. We meet up with them all the time and they get to have playdates,” Erika said.

Erika’s father also happens to volunteer at the Dane County Humane Society. He explained that they take in animals not only left behind by their owners but ones that would be put down at kennels or shelters. The society takes in any and all creatures.

While meeting the rest of the dogs, it was easy to see how much each pet meant to their “parent.” All of the dogs, big and small, played vital roles in the owner’s lives which were eagerly explained.

Eleanor Bogart-Stuart/The Badger Herald

The dogs’ value didn’t have to be justified, you could see it with your own eyes. The canines’ small walk through the neighborhood not only brought joy to the owners, but to the people of Madison. Both adults and children on Monroe Street were grinning from ear to ear by the time the parade had passed through.

If there’s one thing to take away from the parade and its diverse and fascinating participants, it’s how important dogs are to people whether it’s acting as a service dog or just bringing a little bit of joy into our lives on a day to day basis.

The Dog Costume Parade is one of the few times during the year that humans can return the favor.