BAY ST. LOUIS -- Thanksgiving is a few days away, but some pet owners treated their dogs to a "day of thanks" Saturday in the Depot District.
The second annual Barksgiving, a fundraiser for the Friends of the Animal Shelter in Hancock County, included a blessing of the pets, a parade and other dog-oriented activities.
"We started this in 2008 as Barktoberfest," organizer Geoff Belcher said, "but there were so many activities going on in October, we started Barksgiving last year.
"It's a time to celebrate our pets and how much they mean to us. They bring us friendship, companionship and even security."
Micky Evans, founder of the Friends of the Animal Shelter, said Barksgiving has changed with the seasons.
"We used to do Paws on Parade in the spring," she said. "But we needed to do something in the fall so we decided to call it Barksgiving because it is so close to Thanksgiving. We raise money by the registration fees, concessions, the bake sale and also people give us donations."
Participants were encouraged to dress their pets in costumes for the parade. One Bay St. Louis woman decided to not only dress her dog, but she created a holiday costume theme for her family.
"I dressed my dog Marley as a pilgrim and I dressed up in a turkey costume," Ashley Ory said. "My girls dressed as Indians. We heard about Barksgiving and we thought it would be a fun family thing to do."
One of Barksgiving's signature activities is the annual racing of the dachshunds.
Evans said although the race can be quite entertaining, she wasn't encouraging spectators to place bets on the dogs.
"The dachshund races are adorable," she said. "But they are quite unpredictable. Sometimes they run in a circle or sometimes in a straight line. You never know which way they are going to go or which dog is going to win. It's a lot of fun."