San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Annual Festival Celebrates All Things Canine

There were dogs everywhere. They ranged from miniature Chihuahuas carried in purses to a Great Dane-Labrador mix that marched head and shoulders above the rest. They came in all colors, including purple for San José’s soccer team Saprissa, and they wore all manner of dress and costume.

One dog even came as a butterfly with wings and antennae.

It was the National Association for the Protection of Animal’s (ANPA’s) 10th annual Canine Festival, held March 4 at RooseveltPlaza in the eastern San José suburb of San Pedro, and the day included contests for talent and best-dressed dog, dog tricks and dog-owner look-alikes. The idea, according to Gisela Vico, president of the association, is to call attention to the needs of animals, including spay-neutering to prevent overpopulation and consequent abandonment.

ANPA tries to promote homes and health for the humble zaguate, or mixed-breed dog, to eliminate cruelty to all animals and to educate the public on responsible care of pets and other animals.

The festival included treats for dogs, with several pet food companies offering samples, fashion designs for canines, a clinic for quick checkups and shots, toys and T-shirts. For humans, there was the “flea” market – an adoption booth with photos of dogs seeking homes – and food for the hungry, including a vegetarian-vegan section for those who love animals too much to eat them.

Games shared by dogs and their owners included gigante-enano (giant-dwarf), in which both parties had to stand tall or squish down small on command, with the humans doing most of the work. There were exhibitions of tricks such as chasing bubbles and playing dead on command, and one little soccer player was benched for sniffing the ground instead of chasing the ball.

The crowning moment of the day came when Micaela, a winsome brown zaguate, won the coveted title of queen, earning herself a big sack of dog food and a tiny trophy.

Vico said Micaela won because she’s spayed, beautiful and well cared for. The event is held every year on the first Sunday in March. For information on ANPA, call 255-3757; for info on adoptions, visit


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