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Dogs lap up ice cream, hone social skills at K-9 Karnival | Slideshow features the best dressed doggies

Four-legged friends and their devoted owners came to Steel Lake Park on Saturday for the city's K-9 Karnival.

The event has brought dogs and their owners to the park for nine consecutive years. This year's carnival featured dog competitions, a bone hunt, doggie crafts, a dog show, an ice cream eating contest and other entertainment.

Roughly 67 dogs and owners participated in this year's event. Participation was down slightly due to predicted bad weather and the economy, said Leah Fraine, cultural events and arts coordinator.

The carnival did not disappoint. Competitions for the best dressed dog and the loudest canine were popular. The ice cream eating contest was also a pleaser.

"The Lap it Up ice cream contest is always a favorite," Fraine said.

Fern Haynes, of Graham, and her Akita, Dan, won in the "best dressed" category. Both wore wild rainbow-colored wigs, colorful jumpsuits and a large red nose. Dan seemed not to notice his smile-worthy outfit. Haynes said she and Dan, who is a registered therapy dog, have participated in the event for about two years.

Dakota, a long-haired Chihuahua, won the "loudest" dog competition. Tipping her head back, she howled after being prompted by owner Rachel Sandt of Federal Way. Dakota was a fierce competitor for best dressed as well. She sported a monster costume and a lobster costume, both complete with tiny blue canvas shoes and a pair of goggles.

Sandt has taken Dakota to several canine festivals to help socialize her, she said. The dog has health problems and wears the goggles to help her eyesight. She was trained to wear the shoes so she can accompany her owners when they go hiking.

A Schnoodle named Emma, and owner Ivanca Frerichs of Black Diamond, were close contenders in the ice cream eating contest. Though Emma licked her doggie-safe ice cream at a hasty speed, a slightly larger puppy was able to lap up the dessert faster. The competition required owners and their dogs to each finish separate cups of ice cream before other competitors.

Frerichs said she attended the event last year as well, and sees it as an opportunity to socialize her dog.

"It's fun to see all the different dogs," Frerichs said.

The event was sponsored by several local businesses offering pet services. Attendees were able to wander from booth to booth to learn more about veterinarian services, doggie day care options and pet licensing, among other things. The fee charged to participate in the K-9 Karnival is used to offset the cost to put on the event and for other community functions, Fraine said.

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