Here I am sitting in a front row seat at the Ritz Carlton Resort in South Laguna, California attending Yappy Hour. What we have here is a collection of well pampered dogs and their owners, equally well-pampered, all dressed appropriately in Halloween costumes. There are Poodles, and doodles, and collies and mountain dogs, sheep dogs and bulldogs and a whole camaraderie of fancy dogs, but no back-alley dogs with homeless owners. This is a segregated group but understandably so since this is a fundraiser.

The grounds are faux grass, with rock&roll, country and rap music playing through speakers. Hotdogs (God forbid edible dogs) and hamburgers are sold and there is a bar selling liquor to loosen up the pocketbooks. Children are wandering and the place is decorated with Halloween ghouls and monsters.  Many of the dogs are barking, obviously not well trained to attend “de haute vole” social venues and appearing to my ears and eyes very “de classe”! The event is listed as a convocation where “haute hounds enjoy lapping up libations…water with favorite flavors…bacon, chicken, beef or vegan! The humans are offered “Mutt Lynch Unleashed Chardonnay, Merlot Over and Play Dead, Chateau D’og Cabernet and other libations. The proceeds from the sales will support The Veterans Initiative of Canine Companions for Independence!

If this collection of canines is a reflection of what it means to be “a dog’s life” then bring it on. I’ll take it! Of course, there is a committee to select the best dog in several categories, and one of the judges is strangely costumed …not as a dog but as a cat. When I foolishly asked why she was dressed as a cat in a dog show, I was frowned at with raised smug eyebrows and told: “A dog is not qualified to judge other dogs, silly!” I guess that makes sense!

I must say I have never seen such a collection of pampered pooches. Even those at the Westminster Dog show would be overlooked compared with these adorned domesticated carnivorous mammals. The word bitch is never mentioned, and flea bag, cur, mutt and mongrel are definitely taboo. These are the tail-wagging mans-best-friends. There are Sheep dogs but no schlep dogs, Beagles but no boogers, Labradoodles but no cock-a-doodles, Labs but no blobs, Afghans but no aphgoons, Rottweilers but no rottenweilers, Bulldogs but no bulls..t, Poodles and only a few well attended puddles.

This is definitely dog haven and dog heaven.

Dachshunds here are NOT called weiner dogs! There’s nothing sh.tty about the Shih tzus, and the Maltese don’t look malted. I am sure these dogs do not fart and I have yet to see any need for a doggy bag. Maybe high-class dogs of this degree don’t poop!

Now the EMCEE was Wendy from KTLA Channel 5, dressed or rather enveloped in tight black rubber pants trying to emulate 98 pound Olivia Newton John in Grease and self-deprecating because she was not very close to 98 pounds. She was remarkable, flitting about the stage maintaining interest and humor in the several hundred dogs and their pet humans as they waddled, sashayed and kerfuffled across the stage with the audience out front and the four judges sitting at a table in the background. She was remarkably quick-witted and I suppose her ability is honed by her professional career on TV and radio much like a stand-up comic who can react and respond to anything tossed their way. She was remarkable and the lynch-pin for the entire program, hurrying the dog and pony show along without making anyone feel rushed or dishonored.

And off to my left from the high cliff on which the resort was ensconced, I looked down upon the Pacific Ocean, and from our height we could see the brown pelicans circling and swooping. And, as if planned by the Ritz Carlton staff, midway through the program, the sun began to set with swaths of pink and purple across the distant sky giving the whole place a magical texture.

The grounds were decorated with tables and umbrellas, and several tables with the doggy bowls and signs decorated by Debby Carman of FauxPaw productions.  Bruce Brainerd, the Ritz Carlton general manager along with Debby developed the idea of making the hotel pet friendly as well as establishing a fundraiser “Yappy Hour” to raise money for the Canine Companion national program for disabled veterans.

Now I want to go through the seemingly endless procession of dogs and owners to show the originality and diversity of the contestants. First came:  Individual Dog Outfits

There is a male dog with female decorations representing  transgender dogs, a poodle with fall leaves, Mr. Jax a Pomeranian crossdresser with converse high top booties, Irie dressed as a playboy bunny, Cooper as superman/dog, Diego with dark glass goggles and a red coat, Sammy  a collie dressed as a good witch, Bella a witchdog with pointed hat, Lolita  as a red showgirl, Mia with a lion’s mane, Julius a poodle with Pluto attached to its back with box of dos XX beer, Pippy  dressed as elf,  Pom with a Purple Rain outfit, Chloe dressed as a sailor dog, Max with a spider on his back, Racie  a pirate wench, Nova dressed as wolf in grandma outfit from Red Riding hood, Miley, Paisley, and Leila a ladybug, a bumble bee and Alice in Wonderland, a Ninja dog, Marley Kay in orange tutu with pearl collar, Wally dressed as a seal with flippers and juggling balls,  Mack the poodle flying dog with goggles, the Great Gatsby,  Pug as a pumpkin,  Henry as Georgie from ITS, Rod an extended dog with bat wings and a black cape, Reglan a police dog from Irvine with badges,  Lucy the unicorn dog with purple hair dye, Loquetta la Diva in a Bentley with Chanel, Movee a racehorse with jockey on his back, Agness dressed as a ballerina in tutu and tiara, Cowlie a spider dog, Sugar a showgirl from Vegas with purple  feathers, Gismo as a chef with white chef hat, Mia Bella a dancing dog ballerina, Chancellor in military attire,  Tanner Jake from a Meth Lab, Harrison an ice cream cone, Thug Lite dressed as criminal in black and white, Matty dressed as a tater tot, Snoball as batman, Leila a hello-kitty princess, Olive as a spiderdog, Cole as a labraphant Cross between an elephant and a lab, Jax as a beanie baby rescue dog, Benson dressed as a firedog in red outfit and fireman hat!.

Next came the Dynamic Duo group—two living things dog and dog or dog and human.

This started with Hugh Hefner and Playboy bunny dog, two inmates, Quin and Pitou superheroes, Lola and Pamela as snow white and the huntsman. Griffy  as Xena with her owner, a  woman with huge breast  implants, MaggIe and Babyjane as a ladybug and a bumble bee, Charger  as a San Diego Charger and friend, Benny and wench, Stella and Kemosabe as T-bird and the Pink Lady, Zimba and two others as Where’s Waldo, three things by  Dr. Seuss,  Bobo bear and Nebo Captain Amerca, , Buddy and Chelsea dressed as sushi with chop sticks, Rusty as a piñata and partygoer, Bella and Quincy alligator and a unicorn, Zza Zza, Little Mermaids and a lobster, Bo as a pilot and mom as a stewardess, Coquetta la Diva and Bentley, Kahlua and boy Frankenstein, Gracien and Sophie as Skwalker and Yoda, Tasha and Max pirate and halloweenie, Wilma as Ratdog and ratcatcher,  Primadona and Camilla princesses,  Daisy as  Game of Thrones, Inka as lamb and wolf, Kiera  as a Zambonie and skater, Chloe two witches, Tango and Sadie as Bride and groom, Jasmine and Candypie,  Dessert and a Table,  Belle as an ewok, Sammy emoji Dog and Sammie prison dog and policeman,  bat man and bat dog with wings, Buddy butterfly x 2, Bodie with spider and Miss Muffett,  Jack the pepperoni pizza dog and advertisement sheet,  Pebbles as Marilyn and owner as Joe DiMaggio, Roo and Scott as scuba dogs,  Romeo as an ice cream sundae banana split and waitress, Foxie a Starbucks puppy latte and latte handler, Punk rocker and groupie,  Charlie lion dog, Loan Shark, Scraps and Bradley were game of thrones Vikings.

Then the Best Theme Group

Soprano and Benjie as Hefner and girl, Ivy and Ava as a farm family,  Kemosabe and Stella were  007 and James Bond girl.  The pug from outer space in a huge spaceship, Where’s Waldo 4 big white fluffy dogs, Ninja Nate singing dog- Purple Rain,  three Superheroes with tutus, Wild animals zebra, giraffe and Lion, Lunabella and Teddy B were Dracula and wife, Weiner dogs- hot dogs for sale,  Beauty and the Beast, Lola- Star wars R2D2, Yoda, Leia, and Luke, Snoopy the Red Baron, Lucy, Peppermint Patty, Woodstock, Charlie Brown,  Games of Bones dragon dogs, Pete and Wesley were Siegfried and Roy bad dogs, Darcy was Little Red Riding Hood and Grandmama,  Remington a firedog with a fireman and wench ,Game of thrones character, Hunter and Hudson as Game of Thrones dragons, Zeelandas a Barbie doll, Teddy- lion and tamers, Splishsplash as soap, Nola as a Superhero batman and catwoman, Gracie as Wonderwoman with superhero, Diesel. Sharkdog and swmmers, Lion Kings were three dog kings, Baily a beer drinking dog, Max and Bradley voodoo and Vikings,.

And finally the procession was over. The winners were selected, and then announced by Bruce Brainerd with his own dog Brock, (a former Canine Companion who had a change of career), now doing acrobatics on the stage, lying down and rolling over. The night drew to a close.