As the judges compiled their notes, the costumed contestants sniffed out the competition.
It was a fierce battle. But when all was said and done, Leo, an 8-month-old puppy in a lion outfit, was obviously the top dog among the dozen or so canines competing for title of cutest.
The competition was part of the final event of the UFO World Cup Frisbee Dog Series, held Saturday at Clement Park and hosted by the Colorado Disc Dogs.
The event, which drew competitors from across the West, rates dog-and-owner teams in different events revolving around throwing and catching multiple flying discs.
With Halloween just days away, Marie Earle, a member of Colorado Disc Dogs, said the costume contest was an obvious choice. A fan of “The Wizard of Oz,” Earle had dressed her two dogs as flying monkeys to complement her witch’s costume.
“Besides, what woman doesn’t have a witch’s hat in her closet?” Earle said.
Dressing Leo in a lion outfit was an inspired stroke, said Melanie Redinger, 12.
“We weren’t planning on dressing him up in a costume,” Melanie said. “But then we heard about the costume contest, and he just had to enter the cutest.”
Melanie took part in the costume contest while taking a break between competition rounds with her other dog, Perseus. She got involved a year ago after watching her dad in a competition.
“I still have a long ways to go,” Melanie said. “It’s just so much fun. You get to bond with your dog. And even if you mess up, you still get to play with this cute animal.”
Earle encouraged all dog owners to engage their canine friends in a game of catch with a flying disc. Or in any activity, for that matter.
“We want people to do something with their dogs. Don’t just tie them up in the backyard,” Earle said. “Get them out and do something with them.”
Many of the dogs at the competition, both in costume and out, were rescues from animal shelters and other groups, said Deb Williamson, another organizer with Colorado Disc Dogs.
Williamson said people sometimes adopt dogs, especially herding breeds, without taking into account the animals’ need for exercise and a purpose.
“They need daily activity, and if they don’t get it, people have a hard time controlling them. When that happens, they take them to the shelter,” Williamson said. “Frisbee is something you can do in a backyard or in a park.”
Contact Ramsey Scott at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.