By JB Clark
TUPELO – Mayor Jason Shelton and his English bulldog Tort led the second Krewe of Barkus Mardi Gras dog parade around Veterans Park to the Tupelo Bark Park on Saturday morning.
The crowd was smaller this year than in its first year, 2013, but those in attendance were having just as much fun with their furry companions.
Amber Burton, a Starkville veterinarian who does behavioral assessments for the Tupelo-Lee Humane Society, said she brought her flat-coat retriever Jake to Tupelo for the parade to show support for the local pet community.
Her brother, Jesse Burton of Tupelo, walked his dog Abby and TLHS foster dog Honey in the parade. Both are German shepherd mixes.
Amber Burton said Honey is a shy dog they are trying to socialize before she is adopted.
Summer Knight, Tupelo Bark Park organizer, said she was disappointed with the slightly smaller turnout but was happy to see those who chose to participate.
“I guess with the cold weather and rain people didn’t want to come out, but we’re having fun with what we’ve got,” she said, leading the parade while dressed as a dog and tossing Mardi Gras beads. “All the money will go back into the park. We just want to bring fun things in the dog world to Tupelo.”
The parade’s entry fee was $5 and all of the money raised will go back into the Tupelo Bark Park.
“The city helps us maintain the park but this goes to things like doggy bags, bowls, dirt to fill in the holes and eventually an agility course,” said park supporter Alex Knight.
Shelton’s dog Tort led the parade with a smile on his face while adorned in green and purple beads.
“I guess one of the things I like the most is you can always tell what he’s thinking,” Shelton said. “He does not hide his emotions; he wears them on his face. If he’s happy, you know.”
Shelton said when Tort doesn’t want to participate, he rolls over and plays dead. “He’s a pretty big baby but he’s really friendly and he likes things like this.”