Puppy Palooza 1

Trisha Anderson gets Dixie’s attention for a photo Saturday. outside Pet Expo. The store held its first Puppy Palooza party, which had games and vendors for dog owners and dogs.

MANKATO — Dixie the pomapoo stood on a platform Saturday outside Pet Expo in Mankato as her owner, Trisha Anderson, worked to get her attention for a photo.

The 6-month-old is about as photogenic as a dog can be. It helped that she just got a fresh haircut at the groomers the day before.

Anderson directed Dixie’s attention forward at just the right times for Victoria Morsching to snap photos. The portraits were among at least 80 pooch pics posted to an album on Facebook Saturday to mark the store’s first Puppy Palooza party.

The event brought in rescue organizations, dog and human food vendors, games for children, and of course, plenty of socializing for dogs like Dixie. Anderson said she also has an 8-year-old Labrador-huskie mix, and she couldn’t remember such a big puppy party held in Mankato before.

“We’ve never seen anything that involved this,” she said. “For Pet Expo to put this on and have all these local organizations is pretty awesome.”

Pet stores tend to have a steady clientele. Dogs need food, after all, not to mention new toys.

Puppy Palooza was a way to bring regulars together at the same time while welcoming newcomers, said Morsching, Pet Expo’s digital marketing associate.

“After a year of being kind of stuck indoors, I really thought it would be fun for people to get out,” she said.

Because owners need to buy essentials for their pets, Pet Expo kept fairly busy during the COVID-19 pandemic. The store adjusted by offering more curbside orders, Morsching said.

The pandemic did prevent the store from hosting dog adoption events indoors as it did before. Instead, Morsching said Pet Expo brought in three rescue organizations Saturday, Mending Spirits, Rejection Collection Boxer Rescue and For Pets.

Mending Spirits had puppies with special needs available for adoption, said volunteer Kelly Hanson.

“It’s always great to get out in public just so people are aware we’re here and what we do,” she said.

Interest in dog adoption seemed high during much of the pandemic at the nonprofit. It’s slowed a bit, according to Hanson, but that’s not unexpected in the summer.

For a first-time event, she said Saturday’s event was encouraging. People and their pets were having fun, and perhaps some of them might decide to bring a new dog home.

“Everyone brought their dogs,” Hanson said. “It’s wonderful.”

Follow Brian Arola @BrianArola

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