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Nights of Whining and Noses

Jessica Lussenhop watches a fashion show and 'Beverly Hills Chihuahua' at the second Doggie Drive-In at Crepe Place.

By Jessica Lussenhop

IN HONOR of Doggie Drive-In's film selection of the month, Beverly Hills Chihuahua, the Crepe Place was offering $3 well margaritas to the small gathering of Woofers & Walkers members, a local dog owners' collective, assembled on the patio. "If your dog is 3 years old, it's 21," called out founder Whitney Wilde as she bustled around with breathless enthusiasm preparing for the Doggie Bling costume contest, momentarily whirling back around at the sound of her Belgian Malinois GiGi's anxious barking.

"I will kill you," she hissed before distributing an assortment of doggie treats from a See's candy box.

Of course, Wilde would never. GiGi is her pride and joy, as are Charlie, Suzie, Ozzie, Piper, Casey, Pandy, Chena and Holly, to their respective owners. "It's great socialization to interact with the other dogs," said Jeanne Allen of her terrier mix Holly, a rescued stray seated comfortably in Allen's lap. "I never thought she would bond with me, but these events have helped a lot."

Wilde, who proudly identifies herself as one of "these crazy dog people," is exactly what you'd expect, a wildly enthusiastic woman dressed all in stretchy gold. Earlier, as she led the walk around the block that precedes each Doggie Drive-In, she explained that she started Woofers & Walkers in order to make Santa Cruz a more dog-friendly place.

"I wanted people to see responsible dog owners," she said, as she stepped over a scattered pile of dried-up dog business some less responsible dog owner had abandoned. "We give the right of way to pedestrians. We pick up after them." As if on cue, the dogs all hunched over at a spot of grass. After a quick swipe with a biodegradable poop bag, it was movie time.

A little dog draped in a glittering gold shawl handily captured the "Doggie Bling" title, though the only competition was an impeccably groomed black standard poodle with a tiny tiara pinned in its fur. And while the dogs were much, much more interested in one another than they were in the plight of Chloe the anthropomorphic Chihuahua, they were for the most part docile, save for an occasional round of spirited woofing, which was quickly quashed by scolding.

Manager David Pierce said that so far the monthly event has gone swimmingly. "It's nice to know they get walked first," he said. "It's been good for business. Dogs like crepes too."

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