Ann Arbor’s Grizzly Peak Brewing Company was abuzz with excitement Sunday afternoon as local dogs brought their owners to the restaurant to show off their unique costumes at the annual Pups on the Patio Halloween party and costume contest. From homemade to store-bought costumes, dogs both big and small showed up dressed in canine couture as hot dogs, pirates and everything in between.
Maura Zakem, general manager of Grizzly Peak, told The Michigan Daily that every year the establishment looks forward to the event. She said there are a lot of proud dog owners in Ann Arbor and there’s no better way to celebrate Halloween than by bringing all of the pets together to celebrate in style.
“We wanted to make this place a little more dog friendly, and I think that people who love dogs are so enthusiastic about anything that makes them cuter,” Zakem said. “There’s a ton of Halloween parties for humans, so why not make one for dogs? Get them all in one place.”
Zakem judged the competition for the third time this year, though she said the event has been going on for the past eight years. Zakem told The Daily that depending on the weather, Grizzly Peak’s puppy participation varies, though the staff has never been disappointed by the event’s turnout.
“Last year the weather was a bit more agreeable, but every year just gets better and better,” Zakem said. “Everyone comes with a different costume and we have a lot of repeat visitors, and we love seeing the same dogs that we remember from previous years.”
Ann Arbor community member Sonya Didyk’s dog, a black pug named Mabel, competed in the contest on Sunday and was officially selected as the winner of this year’s Pups on the Patio Tuesday afternoon. Mabel was dressed up as a campfire this year, complete with real, edible marshmallows. Didyk said she made Mabel’s costume herself, which was inspired by one of her favorite summer activities.
“We were sitting around the campfire one night … and we said maybe Mabel should be a campfire today,” Didyk said.
This was not Mabel’s first rodeo. The black pug is the reigning Pups on the Patio champion, winning last year’s competition as well for the pin cushion costume Didyk made her. Didyk said she dressed up alongside Mabel last year and came to the event in her own human-sized voodoo doll costume.
However, the contest isn’t just for seasoned competitors. Ann Arbor local Carolyn Sieger told the Daily she entered her new, 3-month-old puppy, Blake, in the competition for the first time this year. Dressed as a cow, Sieger said Blake, who is another black pug, would be a fierce competitor.
Sieger said she felt optimistic about Blake’s chances even though she had opted for a more practical costume.
“We found it at Meijer and it was the only thing with Velcro,” Sieger said. “But he’s got his cuteness going for him.”
The panel of judges consisted of the Grizzly Peak staff who were working during the event. According to Zakem, there are not a lot of objective criteria for selecting a winner, but everyone knows that it’s all in good fun and the staff enjoys the process every year.
“We all kind of look at the pictures and look for our favorites,” Zakem said. “We definitely take into consideration if someone puts a ton of effort into their costume, but we just like to keep it fun and lighthearted and choose whichever one just makes our hearts melt as the winner.”