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Send a Kid to Camp

Humane Society benefit brings out the tails, tutus and cuff links

Hundreds of dogs and their owners attend the Washington Humane Society's 23rd Annual Bark Ball at the Hilton Hotel.

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By John Kelly
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It was Saturday night at the Washington Hilton, and things had gone to the dogs. But then again, it was the Washington Humane Society's Bark Ball, an annual fundraiser to which guests may bring their canine companions.

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Walking through the pre-dinner reception was an exercise in accident avoidance. Not that kind of accident. The dogs were pretty good at holding it in, and if they weren't, an army of "valet barkers" moved in to clean up. No, the tricky part was avoiding stepping on tails, on paws, on little rat-size micro dogs. The animals were everywhere.

The scene was like something from a sci-fi movie set on a planet where everybody has a dog, a dog that accompanies you wherever you go. A dog wearing a bow tie and cuffs or a tutu and tiara.

"Doesn't that bother him?" I asked a woman holding a Chihuahua in a red and white polka dot dress accented by two necklaces (one pearl, one diamond) and whose toenails were painted pink.

No, said the woman, Amina Souné. The blinged-out dog -- Gigi -- was used to it. Amina was watching Gigi for her owner, Kristina Robertson, whose Alexandria dog bakery and boutique, Barkley Square, had supplied treats for the doggy partiers. "She's been dressed up since the day she got her," Amina said.

Gigi looked at me with her exophthalmic eyes, eyes that seemed to beg, "Get me out of this dress and let me chase a rabbit, a squirrel, a chipmunk, anything!"

Aside from the occasional bark, the dogs were miraculously well behaved at dinner. Then again, it was a vegetarian meal. How worked up can a dog get over mushroom ravioli?

I was there to walk an up-for-adoption shelter dog in a "celebrity" parade. That dog turned out to be a dachshund puppy named Rhett who had more energy than anything not much longer than a can of tennis balls should be allowed to have.

When he was on the ground, he snapped at my pants legs. When he was in my arms, he twisted like a Slinky and gnawed on my fingers with his needle teeth. He will make someone a wonderful pet.

When I got home, my black Lab, Charlie, greeted me at the door and then went rigid with concentration. He sniffed and sniffed, circling me to pick up every foreign scent, the smell of my canine infidelity clinging to me like cheap perfume.

Stop, thief!

Phil Kearney is a DEA agent who has spent time tracking Afghan heroin dealers. He's stationed in Ottawa but is often back in Washington on business. So it was one day last week when, just after rolling into town for a meeting, he was at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station, backpack on his back, suitcase in his hand, suit jacket on and tie around his neck. He saw a robber snatch a cellphone out of the hands of a commuter on the platform and leap aboard a stopped Blue Line train.

Phil spent six years as a Salt Lake City cop, and old habits die hard. He shouted "Police!" and gave chase: through the train car ("people were jumping out of the way," he said), out of the train car ("in one door and out another"), up the down escalator ("I've only ever seen it done in movies -- it's not as easy as it looks"), over the turnstile ("I've still got my suitcase"), up another down escalator.

By this time, a federal air marshal, alerted by Phil's numerous shouts, had joined the chase. The pair nabbed the culprit at the top of the escalator. Metro Transit Police arrived a few minutes later and arrested the suspect.

"They asked me my age -- I tell them 41," Phil said. "They ask the robber, he says 15."

The Metro police broke out laughing and told the perp he should be ashamed to be caught by such an old guy.

This obesity epidemic is worse than I thought.

Send a Kid to Camp

Many readers have been asking me when this year's fundraiser for Camp Moss Hollow will start. Guess what: It's started! Your tax-deductible gift will help send at-risk kids to the summer camp. To donate, send a check or money order, payable to "Send a Kid to Camp," to P.O. Box 96237, Washington, D.C. 20090-6237. Or contribute online by going to washingtonpost.com/camp and clicking on the donation link. To use MasterCard or Visa by phone, call 202-334-5100 and follow the instructions on our taped message.

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