FORT WAYNE – What does it take to make a perfect pup-nic party?
It starts with a couple of cupcakes – one for you and a miniature version for your pup.
Then a few blue swimming pools, designed to keep even the fluffiest friends cool in the hot summer sun.
And later, stop for a visit with some new furry friends and then finish off the day with a raffle or contest.
The Fort Wayne Pet Food Pantry teamed up with local vendors, animal clinics, training academies and others to host a Summer Pup-nic and Ice Cream Social on Sunday at Shoaff Park, designed to bring pet lovers together to raise funds for the pantry.
Dozens of four-legged friends hopped out of the vehicles parked near Conklin Pavilion, sniffing, barking and licking their way through the three-hour event.
Following behind, often being dragged by a leash, were the dogs' owners, eager to inspect the newest toys and snacks to spoil their furry friends.
Andre Hull and Elizabeth Michaelsen of Fort Wayne brought their two fluffy friends to the event, eager to share their story of how their family came to be.
Hull and Michaelsen had adopted two white Samoas from different rescue centers, each with challenges to overcome.
Bailey, 4, was aggressive, and Codi, 3, had an anxiety disorder that led him to tear up the entire basement, Michaelsen said.
"They've been together for about three years now," Hull said. "They've come a long way."
On Sunday, Bailey and Codi wandered through the kiddie pools, fooling Hull and Michaelsen into thinking they needed a drink. Instead, they pulled toward the water, inching close enough for a quick dip.
As Bailey barked and wiggled her foot in the water, Michaelsen explained that although the two dogs appeared plenty fluffy, they'd recently been trimmed.
"This is only half of what his fur normally looks like," she said, smoothing Bailey's approximately 3-inch hair around his face.
The two dogs enjoy the water, but because of their thick, fluffy fur, have to be combed and blow-dried to avoid becoming a matted mess, Michaelsen said.
In the pavilion nearby, 3-month-old Bunny, a miniature dachshund, awaited her chance to shine during the event's "smallest dog" contest.
The tiny puppy, weighing less than four pounds, bounced around the pavilion, twisting and tangling her leash between the other small pups.
Her owner, Mary Alice Sunier of LaOtto, waited to hear if the pup would be named winner.
As the results came in, a Chihuahua named Baxter was named the day's smallest visitor, while a mastiff named Duece won his spot among the largest dogs.