More than a dozen Mainers participated Sunday in a pup-to-person make-out session for charity at the Planet Dog company store in Portland.
In truth, Planet Dog’s 10th annual Valentine’s Day party and kissing contest mostly involved dogs enthusiastically licking their owners’ smiling but cringing faces.
The contest, postponed from Friday because of bad weather, challenged dog owners to see who could get their pet to lick their faces the longest.
The winner was five-time champion Linda Walton, whose mixed-breed dog, Beau, gave nonstop, slobbery kisses to her pursed lips, cheeks and tightly shut eyes for about 41 seconds before taking a short break and then licking her some more.
For enduring Beau’s extended show of affection, Walton, who lives in Saco, received a $75 Planet Dog gift card.
“He’s a Frenchman,” she said about the 14-year-old Beau. “That’s why he kisses so good.”
Walton said she has participated in the contest six times and won five times.
“He lost once because of one of your reporters,” she said. “He zoomed in, and Beau got distracted.”
About 60 dog owners showed up with their beagles, boxers, poodles, labs, retrievers, setters and other breeds to watch the contest, socialize and enjoy snacks courtesy of Westbrook-based dog products wholesaler and retailer Planet Dog.
Sixteen attendees participated in the contest, the proceeds of which will go to the Planet Dog Foundation, which has provided about $1 million in grants to organizations that use dogs to help humans, store manager Jim Williams said.
The 16-year-old company began strictly as a wholesaler of products for dogs, including its signature chew toy, the Orbee, which is made of a specially developed nontoxic material, Williams said. The blue and green Orbee looks like a tiny planet Earth.
Planet Dog has been hosting monthly events ever since it opened the Portland store, its only brick-and-mortar retail outlet, in 2004,Williams said.
The most popular events are the kissing contest, a Halloween costume contest and a Christmas party during which customers can take pictures of their dog sitting on Santa’s lap, he said.
Not every contest participant’s dog cooperated on Sunday.
Portland resident Kim Croce’s dog Jax failed to lick her face at all, but Croce did not take it personally.
“He’s normally a very affectionate dog, but he’s so overwhelmed right now,” she said.
J. Craig Anderson can be contacted at 207-791-6390 or at: