Barkus Royal Ball (Humans only)
8 p.m. Friday
The Windsor Court Hotel, 300 Gravier St.
Barkus Goes Tailgaiting
10:30 p.m. Sunday — Pawty and registration
North Rampart Street at Orleans Avenue
1 p.m. Sunday — Parade
Advance registration for one dog and one human $40, parade-day registration $50
Dog owners identify loyalty to two things above all else, says canine-lifestyle expert Wendy Diamond: sports and dogs — oddly, in that order (and cars came in a surprising third in her poll).
That insight comes from a survey of subscribers to Diamond's magazine Animal Fair, which leashes celebrities to pet-owning lifestyle issues and animal care and rescue efforts. And it makes one wonder how it took so long for the Krewe of Barkus to focus on sports at its annual costumed dog parade. It helped that Sunday's parade theme, "Barkus Goes Tailgating: The Dogs Go Barking In," was picked when the Saints were on a roll.
"I think the Saints were 10 and 0," says Charlotte Bass Lilly, vice president of Barkus and director of Animal Rescue New Orleans. "We can always do 'Sherlock Bones and the Case of the Crooked Cat.' This seemed like the best time for a sports theme."
The canine krewe will sport plenty of black and gold on Sunday, and Lilly expects a banner year. Organizers refused to reschedule the parade because of the Super Bowl, but they moved the start time up one hour. There will be less competition from other parades, and organizers expect the French Quarter to be packed with Saints fans, so there will be more spectators than usual, Lilly says.
Diamond will march as grand marshal and escort her Maltese, Lucky, who will be decked out in black and gold. The two also will attend the Barkus Royal Ball on Friday.
Diamond is a former advocate for the homeless who, in the late 1990s, switched her focus to animal rescue and adoption issues. From early on, she enlisted celebrities and their pets to call attention to animal protection issues. She also wrote a book about screening potential human male mates by their dog-owning traits, choosing 36 breeds and interviewing four men who owned each type.
"It's a way to waste less time at the dog park," Diamond says. "But overall, dog owners are good prospects because they are committed to a relationship, a bond." ("Beware of stray men," she adds.)
The popularity of the book rubbed one group the wrong way, however. So she had to write How to Understand Women Through Their Cats to appease feline fanatics. Diamond is set to release It's a Dog's World: The Savvy Guide to Four-Legged Living (Ballantine), which addresses all sort of issues in pet ownership, from making a home pet-friendly to traveling with them.
This is Diamond's first time participating in Barkus, but she has worked with the Louisiana Humane Society, serving as chairman of the Katrina Pet Memorial project and helping to raise funds. The memorial was dedicated at City Hall in August 2008.
Since its inception in 1993, Barkus has raised funds for many local animal protection groups and shelters, and it is the single largest annual donor to several of them. Last year, a total of $25,000 was donated to 13 groups, Lilly says. Many Barkus volunteers are associated with the groups. Queen Barkus is always a shelter dog whose identity is announced at the Royal Ball.
For ball, parade and registration information, visit www.barkus.org.