Judging the finalists were David York, Kurt Kolok and the Rev. Mary Curns.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — This year's annual Fall Foliage Festival Parade will have not one but two grand marshals — both of the canine persuasion.
Seymour, a Texas mutt, and Curby, a dapper little pooch, were selected on Thursday from nine finalists to represent the parade's theme of "Year of the Dog."
"When we heard about the grand marshal competition, we really thought it would be Curby's opportunity to shine," said owner Nico Dery. "We also thought it would be a great opportunity to show the world that shelter pets — a stray — that these dogs make awesome pets."
Curby stood out in his little hat and tuxedo, ready for the following doggie fashion show at Downstreet Art, and Seymour was natty in his yellow handkerchief but the other pooches were also excited for their big moment. A dozen had been chosen as finalists from the pictures and resumes submitted but only nine were able to make the judging on Thursday night.
One by one, they came onto the stage set up on Holden Street and were introduced by Benjamin Lamb, a city councilor and economic development projects manager for 1Berkshire, which organizes the parade. Their owners explained why they thought their dog was the perfect grand marshal — because they were loyal, supportive, friendly, special in some way and just great doggos.
The selections were made by three judges: Museum of Dog owner David York, arts consultant and civic activist Kurt Kolok, and the Rev. Mary Frances Curns, priest in charge at All Saints Episcopal Church. (All dog owners of course.)
Afterward, Curns and Kolok said the idea of co-marshals really spoke to the judges as an example of the kind of community collaboration that takes place in the city.
"I didn't know what to expect," Kolok said. "I think it all came down to the definition of community. ... This community is about working together so we all kind of pushed to have the co-marshals."
Curns said it was definitely about community, something that she has experienced herself during her 3 1/2 years in this close-knit city.
"Co-marshaling was about coming together and working together and helping each other," she said. "I think that's what Seymour and Curby are all about."
Seymour, in particular, is a good example, she said.
Bri Rousseau got Seymour, who maybe is a little Australian shepherd or border collie, three years ago as a rescue from Texas. They celebrated their "adoptaversary" on Aug. 17. Since then, Seymour's become a registered therapy dog with Pet Partners and has worked with children and adults.
"Seymour and I have already done a lot of community work in North Adams and we've just found North Adams to be our home," Rousseau said. "We do a lot of volunteer work at the library. We do Reading With Rover, which a lot of young people who either struggle with reading or are maybe nervous about reading — even nervous around dogs — can come and read to a quiet nonjudgmental puppy."
Seymour also helped out Rousseau when she had worked with clients at the Brien Center.
"He knows when he's working, he knows when he has a job to do," she said. "I just figured, why not? It's a community event and he's the epitome of a community dog."
Curby, who has the look of a Chihuahua, impressed the judges as a down-on-his-luck dog turned good. "Curby came from a real tough neighborhood," said Curns. "A homeless city dog, and even the shelter wouldn't accept him."
Dery said she found Curby as a stray six years ago when he was probably about a year old. He was hard to handle at first; even a friend with experience with dogs used oven mittens around him because she was afraid to touch him.
"It took a few years and a lot of intensive training to bring him to where he is today," she said. "But his personality really came out once we showed him a little love. ... We knew there was a really good dog in there."
She and her husband, Gavin, want Curby to show that adoption is a great way to add a special family member.
"He's a small dog but he's a big boss," smiled Gavin.
Both dogs will appear in the 63rd annual Fall Foliage Festival Parade on Sept. 30.
Also participating as finalists were Ron Lively and Cooper; Larysa Bernstein and Wallace; Garrett Lechowski and Pickles; Carrie Kondel and Hadley; Pete Cote and Kaiser; April Ruiz and Benjamin Westerbrook Esq.; and Marianne Bloor and Oliver. Parade volunteer Doug Yriart aided with the presentation.
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