Has your dog been lonely lately? Sniffing more behinds than usual?

Well Downtown Oak Park (DTOP) hopes to offer the cure this October, when it plans to host the world’s largest dog wedding. DTOP is inviting dog owners from all over, to shatter the current record of 178 canine couples.

No, we’re not making this up.

The event will even offer speed-dating for dogs, to quickly pair up any stray, single mutts. Online doggie-dating may be an option, too.

“Kind of a meet-and-greet where owners can get dogs to meet, get a marriage license and participate in the ceremony,” described DTOP Executive Director Pat Zubak.

Matt Baron, a spokesperson for the event, is helping DTOP to clear the various hurdles to making the Guinness Book of World Records. Baron also put together a blog about the event, found at idodoggoneit.blogspot.com, hoping to keep the event in the public’s consciousness in the coming months.

One of the hardest parts, he said, will be squeezing the 358 dogs, each with a leash attached to a human, onto one block.

“So we’re talking 716 living organisms in a relatively finite space,” he said. “We really need to plan out where these people are going to be situated.”

The event might sound silly, but the cause is serious. DTOP, a non-profit marketing and promotions agency for Oak Park’s largest business district, hopes to raise $25,000 for the village’s Animal Care League, 1013 Garfield Ave.

The funds will be raised through the doggie marriage licenses, which will cost $5 a pop, er, pup. ACL will also sell merchandise at the event and sponsorships and take donations. Proceeds will be used to buy new cages, update its programs and care for the animals.

“Some might not think dogs should be married, that it’s a slap in the face of the sanctity of marriage,” said ACL Executive Director Tom Van Winkle. “It’s not meant to say something about the institution of marriage. It’s just a fun, silly event that we’re going to have a good time with.”

Village President David Pope was scheduled to preside over the ceremony. However, he’ll likely be out of town. The event is planned for Oct. 4 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the newly renovated Marion Street, just south of Lake. Pope will seek a volunteer on the village board to take his place.

“It should be a barking good time,” he said.

The event, titled “I Do, Doggone It,” is part of DTOP’s third annual Dog Day Afternoon.

DTOP first started exploring the possibility of hosting the event a year ago. It believed the mark of 178 canine couples-set by Littleton, Colo. last year-was beatable.

“To me it was an achievable record to break again,” Zubak said. “And I thought Oak Park, being the dog-loving community it is, just seemed natural.”

Same-sex couple is first for Oak Park’s I Do, Doggone It!

Elvis

Elvis, a 7-year-old soft-coated Wheaten terrier, has never been married, according to Roz and Tom Byrne, who have had him since he was about six months old.

 “But he’s a heck of a flirt,” says Roz Byrne, a Realtor in Oak Park, who’s not concerned that Elvis’s loyalties will be torn after the ceremony.

“This dog has more affection to go around. He loves other dogs. He loves kids. He loves people,” Byrne bragged. “I don’t think I’ll be too jealous if he gets hitched.”

Mr. Big

At 4 pounds 4 ounces, Mr. Big is an eighth the size of his intended.

“He was buds with a 95-pound pit bull in Dallas,” says Helen Karakoudas, managing editor at Wednesday Journal. “He can hold his own with big dogs.”

Mr. Big’s nuptial history is unknown, like his age. When she adopted him two years ago from a humane society in Texas, Karakoudas says she was told he was 10 to 12.

“Biggie protests that,” Karakoudas notes. “He’s got a lot of spunk.”


Help us arrange more dog marriages

Dan Haley, Wednesday Journal editor and publisher, and Lorraine Swanson, editor of News-Star, one of our Chicago papers, are open to fix-ups for Gobi and Rosie.

Gobi Haley

Gobi is a 6-year-old yellow Lab who carries a few extra pounds but carries them well. Sweet-tempered but worried about being lonely in his old age. Thinks he wants a wife-dog but could be convinced otherwise. Likes cats. But not in that way.

Rosie Swanson

Rosie is a svelte 5-year-old black miniature Schnauzer looking for mate to share long sniffs in the grass and to keep her company on Tuesdays when Mommy is on deadline.  Enjoys chasing pigeons and squirrels.  Also likes eating paper. Wants a big male dog, preferably neutered.

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