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Only social dogs allowed at annual L.A. pooch party

More than 500 dogs who live downtown and their owners frolic at the fourth annual Dog Day Afternoon gathering at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels.

July 28, 2010|By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

The invitation to downtown Los Angeles' fourth annual Dog Day Afternoon kindly requested the company of canines "of all shapes, sizes and faiths."

But there were two caveats: First, the party was exclusively for the dogs of downtown residents. Second, admittance was granted to "social dogs only, please."

The party, held on the sandstone plaza of the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, was a chance for downtown's many types of dogs, and people, to socialize.

As jazz music played and a late-afternoon wind blew, a steel gray pit bull nosed up to a shivering Chihuahua, three golden retrievers frolicked in a circle, and a guy on roller blades and very short shorts chatted up a man in a business suit.

"I see my neighbors, I see people from the party last year, and I see some dogs who have really grown up," Curtis Lovell II said. Lovell, a downtown loft resident — and the guy in the shorts — was there with his dachshund, Giorgio.

The party last summer, Lovell said, "was one of our first doggie social events, so we had to come back."

Several downtown doggie day care centers and pet boutiques handed out goody bags, and dog walkers handed out business cards. One man had the unenviable task of trolling the grounds with a canister of water and a hose, "for when the dogs do their little business."

More than 500 dogs and nearly 1,000 humans signed up for the event, said Hal Bastian, vice president of the Downtown Business Improvement District, the party's sponsor.

Bastian, the self-proclaimed proud father of Scooter, an exceptionally well-groomed Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever. Scooter was, according to the invitation, one of the party's official hosts. The other was Joaquin, a black Labrador that belongs to Msgr. Kevin Kostelnik.

Kostelnik said he approached the business improvement district about throwing a gathering for dogs after he realized there were few open spaces in downtown where dogs could run.

"God loves all his creatures," Kostelnik said. "And pets bring people together."

Kostelnik was proud that in four years of hosting the event, "we've never had a dog fight."

Cardinal Roger Mahony was at the party, too, posing for photographs with people and their dogs. Despite appearances, though, Kostelnik says "the cardinal is a cat man."

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