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Dressed-up dogs do tricks for treats at Barktoberfest

Central Point residents Kaitlyn Ormsby, 11, and her Australian shepherd, Maggie, are donning matching pirate costumes in celebration of Halloween ' or rather Howl-oween ' at this weekend's Barktoberfest doggie celebration at the Jackson County Expo.

Organizers wanted to replace the discontinued Pet Expo.

The afternoon of fun and games is sponsored by the Southern Oregon Kennel Club. The weekend also has agility, conformation and obedience trials taking place at the Expo, but those are for registered participants recognized by the American Kennel Club.

Barktoberfest is open to purebreds and mongrels alike.

Kaitlyn's mother, Laura Ormsby, is one of the organizers.

— She said making a canine costume is simple ' she just purchased a children's Halloween costume and made some adjustments. We just shortened the pants and made a hole for a tail, she said.

A dog-costume contest, a look-alike dog and owner contest, best-singing dog as well as dog-dancing demonstrations are among the many events scheduled for the afternoon.

And there's Madam Bow-wow-ski Doggy Paw Reading.

Ormsby would not reveal the identity of the mysterious paw reader ' she only said she was a wise woman.

She will be able to tell a dog all about its future, she said, declining to explain further. We can't let her secrets out too much.

The event replaces the annual Pet Expo, which has folded after five consecutive years.

The Pet Expo was organized by the Southern Oregon Humane Society and Dogs for the Deaf as a fund-raiser, but it had one major problem: It wasn't raising funds.

Any profit went into paying staff and consultants, said Humane Society Director Bill Templeman, so organizers decided to discontinue the event.

Robin Dickson of Dogs for the Deaf said about 7,000 people attended the Pet Expo in each of the last couple years, but they needed a larger crowd to make money. She said similar expos are more successful in Portland and Sacramento.

Ormsby said she hoped this would be the first of an annual tradition, and organizers had the advantage of not having to make it a fund-raiser.

We're hoping it pays for itself, she said.

Ormsby had some advice on selecting dog-friendly costumes.

I think anything that doesn't hurt a dog and doesn't scare a dog (will work), she said. She recommends people try out the costumes on their pet around the house before venturing out in public. She said not all dogs enjoy wearing costumes, and if a dog starts to show signs of stress or anxiety, that's the sign to remove it.

If you go

What: Barktoberfest, sponsored by the Southern Oregon Kennel Club.

When: 2 p.m. today 10/30

Where: Barker Barn, Jackson County Expo, — Peninger Road, Central Point.

Cost: &

36;5 per dog for the day for all games, extra fees for AKC events.

Contact: Laura Ormsby at 779-3659, or Ann Warren at 944-7226.