March 18, 2010

Call it puppy love

— It's been seven years since Catherine and Ollie first kissed, but Catherine still remembers what a powerful moment it was.

20080128_Wiggles
click image to enlarge

20080128_Wiggles

Gordon Chibroski

20080128_Wiggles
click image to enlarge

20080128_Wiggles

Gordon Chibroski

Additional Photos Below

''It was a little stinky, but it bonded us forever,'' said Catherine, whose last name is Frost.

Frost was in an animal shelter looking for a pet seven years ago when Ollie, then just a pup, stepped up and planted a wet one on her.

Now if you're not a dog lover, the idea of a dog kissing you probably makes you cry out in disgust like Lucy did in the ''Peanuts'' strips whenever Snoopy smooched her. But if you are a dog person, you know that a dog's kiss is nearly perfect, since it's a completely instinctive and non-judgmental sign of affection.

In the seven years they've been together, Frost has found that she doesn't mind Ollie's dog breath, or any dog breath for that matter. She kind of likes it. In fact, she likes it so much that she came up with an idea for Valentine's Day that would allow her to get her fill of doggie smooching.

Frost is the marketing and product development director for Planet Dog, the Portland-based dog products company.

The company puts on an annual Valentine's Day event for customers, and as marketing director, Frost was trying to find a way to put a new spin on it.

''It occurred to me that dogs like to kiss, and it would be fun to have a contest,'' she said.

Frost thought that the best way to judge a dog's kissing ability would be to have them all kiss the same kissee -- namely, her.

So here's how the dog-kissing contest will work: People will bring their dogs to Planet Dog Company Store, 211 Marginal Way, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Feb. 14 for the store's Fourth Annual Valentine's Day Canine Cocktail Party. There will be beer, wine and treats at the free event.

Any dog can enter the kissing contest. To provide the proper kissing mood, dogs will sit on a red, heart-shaped dog bed, with wine and roses nearby. Then Frost will lean in for a kiss, and a contest official will time the kiss.

The longest, sloppiest, juiciest kiss wins one lucky dog $50 worth of goodies from Planet Dog, plus a $100 gift certificate to the Old Port Sea Grill for the humans, with no expiration date.

''We thought it would be a fun spectator sport for dog lovers, particularly if we get big drooly dogs like Newfies in the contest,'' Frost said.

Portland is a dog-crazy town, with dog parks, several dog-specific stores, and lots of places where people and dogs gather. So when Frost told me she expected about 30 or more canines at this event, I thought that estimate might be low.

Ann Morrow, a freelance bookkeeper who lives in South Portland, had already decided in mid-January to attend the contest with Wiggles, her 1-year-old miniature Dachshund.

Morrow usually brings Wiggles with her to her jobs at various businesses, so on a recent Friday, they were both at a law firm near the Old Port. To demonstrate the ease with which her pooch smooches, Morrow summoned Wiggles to her lap and then just leaned in.

Smack! The tongue came out, and affection was bestowed upon Morrow's cheek.

''That's their expression of a greeting, kissing,'' Morrow said. ''Wiggles is a big kisser.''

But will the little Dachshund be a big enough kisser to compete with other, bigger, drooly dogs?

There's only one way to find out -- celebrate Valentine's Day with your four-legged loved one at the dog-kissing contest.

''Valentine's Day is all about the kiss, and there's nothing sweeter than a kiss from a dog,'' Frost said.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at:

rrouthier@pressherald.com

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Additional Photos

20080128_Wiggles
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20080128_Wiggles

Gordon Chibroski

click image to enlarge

 


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