Spectators dig UConn Dogspotting's first-ever dog show Sunday

A student walks her dog down a red carpet next to UConn's Great Lawn during the UConn Dogspotting Club's first annual dog show on Sunday, April 24, 2016. (The Daily Campus)

A student walks her dog down a red carpet next to UConn's Great Lawn during the UConn Dogspotting Club's first annual dog show on Sunday, April 24, 2016. (The Daily Campus)

Spectators on Founder's Green enjoyed a parade of costumed canines at the UConn’s Dogspotting Club’s first annual dog show.

The winners were announced near the end of the event, with the grand prize going to Christian, a husky-golden retriever mix dressed as a unicorn and owned by eighth semester environmental sciences major Gabrielle Zirolli, who received a dinner for two at Dog Lane Cafe and a $75 Petco gift card.

Eighth semester fine arts major Alana Valdez said she started the Dogspotting Facebook group in February 2015 as a fun way to share photos of dogs with her friends.

“I’d see dogs all over campus,” Valdez said. “It was a fun excuse to go up and pet them.”

The club gained traction in September, when Valdez received official recognition by UConn. As of now, the page now has over 700 followers.

“This is our first official meet up,” she added. “I hope to get more people organized and have more fundraisers [next year].”

The dog show, held on Sunday, was sponsored by Spring Weekend and featured dogs dressed as a princess, an octopus and an ice cream sundae, among others. The show drew dozens of students, who watched the canines walk down a red carpet laid out on the sidewalk, while Valdez presented each competing dog.

“Here we have Blitz, a husky-German shepherd mix,” announced Valdez for one competing canine. “Blitz likes car rides, wearing bandannas and looking cute while doing it. He ate his costume earlier.”

Judges scored each dog’s costume based on creativity, cuteness and the craft put into the outfit.

“They were all amazing,” judge Casey Maher, a Dogspotting Club member and self-proclaimed connoisseur of adorable dog outfits, said. “It made it very hard to judge. It would be impossible to judge the dog, so we judge the costume.”

After the show, spectators enjoyed a free lunch, funded by the university, and played with the dogs on the green.

“People get so excited about dogs,” Mary Banas, a judge and a graphic design professor at UConn, said. “If people see a dog on campus, they take photos on post about it on the Dogspotting Facebook page. With all the new apartments downtown, there’s more students with dogs [on campus]."

Meanwhile, the runner-up might have been the dog with the funniest costume: Caleb, a Portuguese water dog dressed as a parking attendant by owner Zane Grady, who received a $75 Petco gift card.

“It was really cute,” Zirolli said. “It reminds you off your dogs back at home.”


Marlese Lessing is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at marlese.lessing@uconn.edu.