Flip the script: Dogs take owners bow-wow-rousing downtown during Kzoo's Dogs in the Zoo

Big dogs. Little dogs. Working dogs. Fashion dogs. Pedigreed dogs. And beloved mutts.

All the dogs were out in downtown Kalamazoo for Dogs in the Zoo on Saturday, Sept. 9. The event was sponsored by Downtown Kalamazoo Shops.

Second Wave journalist Mark Wedel and photographer Fran Dwight went looking for the best dogs and found that they were all very good boys and girls.

Cooper's endearing trait is "just how happy he is all the time," says Heather Bailey. "That big, goofy smile he puts out," Matt Bailey says.

Some might think the Baileys are spoiling Cooper, pushing him around in a large stroller. But Cooper, nearly nine, has had multiple health problems, so his people do their best for him.

"He just went blind two months ago, so this is his first outing. He's doing pretty well," Heather says. "Enjoying every day we get with him," she adds.

Pet boutique Beowoof Provisions for Pets owner Karl Gerstner.

Beowoof, at 428 South Burdick near the south end of the Mall, was downtown's obvious pet-oriented business present at the event. 

Other shops highlighted their doggie specials: Pup Cups from Cherri's Chocol'art, Pup Corn by Pop City Popcorn, and Doggie Sundaes from Spirit of Kalamazoo

Lisa Roussin of Beyond Bones. Beyond Bones made sure the dogs had enough treats on the Mall. The business, an offshoot of The Arc of Allegan County, employs people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Beignet, with his girl Roe Pollerana (facepaint by Colors and Cocktails). 

James and Abbie Pollerana say that, yes, it's not that we can't see them in all the pug's wrinkles — Beignet has no eyes. He had been suffering because of an eye disorder, so they were removed.

"He does pretty good. He's wild, but he gets around," James says. "Just sniffing around."

Beignet has ears to guide him, also, but "he doesn't listen, he just does what he wants," Abbie says.

Former Mayor Bobby Hopewell met a few canine friends during Dogs in the Zoo.

Xany wanted just-purchased treats right then and there, but Machlin Fink scolds, "That's for later!"

Xany, "which is short for Alexander Hamilton," is adopted. Her breed seemed a mystery, but a DNA test "came back 100% lab," Fink says.

Not just dogs got the royal treatment. Colors and Cocktails offered free face painting for members of their pack.

One dog was getting a lot of attention from humans and canines: Kenworth, who must've been named after the semi-truck that his profile resembles.

Wayne Patterson drove the 180-pound Neapolitan mastiff to Kalamazoo from the Climax-Scotts area. "He's just a wonderful dog. He lost his mom, and I lost my wife, in December. This is a beautiful event... I haven't gone out much, so I thought, let's just go down there and have fun."

"He's met a lot of friends. He's very good with dogs as it is, but he's never had so many at one time.... He's just a big, gentle giant." 

Kenworth seems to have constant drool hanging from his amazing jowls. "Yes, I have a mop at home... I chase him around after he gets a drink of water," Patterson says. "Big eater, he eats about 13 cups of kibble a day, with a can of food."

Rosie says hi to Kenworth, but her chihuahua-mix brother Pablo wants to let him know he's top dog. 

The event was nothing but good vibes, with no fights breaking out. "I was kind of worried about that," Stacy Carlson says, laughing about Pablo's machismo. Rosie and Pablo were with her and Piper Walker.

And Kenworth makes more friends.

The Mall street was blocked off, and traffic was replaced by doggie obstacle courses

Water features led to unabashedly wet dogs, and dogs like Snickerdoodle the Goldendoodle drinking their fill. Snickerdoodle's people Amy and Anna Smith wait patiently. 

Chuck, a two-year-old hound mix, is available, ladies. Becky Fraker of the Animal Rescue Project, says, "He is fabulous, loves humans, loves dogs, not a fan of the cats if you know what I mean. When you pet him, you get so happy." Animal Rescue Project has many dogs and cats available for adoption.

Animal Rescue Project had a bushel of puppies available for adoption. Not to be confused with Kalamazoo Animal Rescue.

"They're a great group, also," the Project's Jack Frost says — Animal Rescue Project is a no-kill shelter that saves at-risk homeless pets, gives them medical care and temporary homes, and works to adopt them out to their forever homes. 

Frost says that a lot of owners are being forced to give up their pets because of life changes such as evictions. "I think it's worse now than it was during COVID," he says. 

Aries celebrated his tenth birthday on the Mall. He's a service dog, a professional, Troy Minich says, but, "He gets a little excited around dogs, wants to say 'hi.'"

Two adult Animal Rescue Project got a lot of attention, and Pup Cups: Eight-year-old Apple (malamute mix) and Jax (husky).

They need to be adopted as a pair,

Simon Limback, project volunteer, says, "They're good-tempered with people, but not so much with cats."

Chuck and Becky demonstrate the "Sloppy Kiss" kissing booth for the Animal Rescue Project.

And there were plenty of fashionistas. Lola struts her stuff looking fabulous, yet mysterious, in leopard framed mirrored sunglasses, accompanied by her man Steve. 

Henry is always dapper in his plaid bowtie. "He has always worn a bowtie since he was a puppy," Jessica Lindquist says. "He's very loving and snuggly." 

Napoleon, with Brittany Ponicki, may be short in stature, but he's ready to conquer the Mall.

Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Mark Wedel.

Mark Wedel has been a freelance journalist in southwest Michigan since 1992, covering a bewildering variety of subjects. He also writes on his epic bike rides across the country. He's written a book on one ride, "Mule Skinner Blues." For more information, see www.markswedel.com.