From the Archives: Holy 'muttrimony' on Valentine's Day

From the Archives: Holy 'muttrimony' on Valentine's Day

Editor’s note: Each week, is bringing back an article from our archives that is still helpful, relevant or insightful. This article was originally published on February 15, 2008.

Canines and felines were feeling the romance of Valentine's Day with a furry exchange of wedding vows Thursday at the Humane Society Naples.

Ordained pet minister Arlene Ponack of North Naples wed 10 pet couples, including one feline couple, black and white kittens Neil and Gabrielle, who are waiting to be adopted from the Humane Society.

"They didn't need to wear the tuxedo and veil. They both are wearing their own stylish tuxedoes," said Patricia Connell, assistant director of development.

Other pet couples, primarily canines, were wed in holy "muttrimony" wearing traditional wedding attire provided by Ponack, including a tuxedo jacket and bowtie for the males and a white veil for the females.

"I broke my golden rule never to dress up my pets," said Michael Simonik, the Humane Society's executive director.

Simonik's Australian Shepherds, bride Neska, 9, and groom Ahji, 12, were the first couple to exchange doggy I-dos at the Humane Society's event.

"They've been living in sin for nine years. Over that time they've had three litters together," Simonik said.

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The $35 nuptials included wedding cake, photographs by local professional pet photographer Shari Bare and a wedding certificate with all proceeds donated to the Humane Society Naples.

To complete the wedding experience, live music was performed by Seaside Strings' musicians Vivian Aiello, playing violin, and Diane Coffman, playing cello.

The fundraiser increased adoptions for the Humane Society. Simonik said six or seven pets were in the process of being adopted at the event, doubling the usual number of adoptions in a three-hour time period.

The Humane Society has about 100 animals, including one rabbit, up for adoption.

Several people said they came down to the event from Fort Myers because an outbreak of flu has left the Lee shelter quarantined and closed indefinitely.

Terry and Chip Foster of Fort Myers brought their Catahoula Leopard Hound named Blue down to Naples, hoping to find a female.

"The pound in Fort Myers is closed and he (Chip) can't wait to get another dog. In July, his first Catahoula, Shannon, died. We got Blue a couple days later, but Blue has always been a momma's boy," Terry Foster said.

The Fosters considered adopting Baby Cakes, a one-year old female Catahoula mix from the Naples shelter.

"It's really important to me to get a dog that might not get adopted otherwise. I want a Catahoula, a female and a dog that gets along well with Blue," Chip Foster said.

Blue and Baby Cakes rolled around on the ground playing together as if on-cue to encourage Terry Foster to approve the adoption.

She said she was a little concerned because Baby Cakes had a broken leg that wasn't healing correctly.

While the couple decided if Baby Cakes would be the newest addition to the family, they also said they weren't sure about awedding between Blue and Baby Cakes.

"Well if we adopt her, won't they both be like our children …we can't marry our children to each other," Chip Foster said with a smile.

Ponack, ordained with the non-denominational Universal Brotherhood Movement, is the owner of Arlene's At Your Service. In addition to pet sitting and pet party planning, Ponack performs "any ceremony for pets that can be performed for humans," including bar mitzvahs, baptisms, funerals and commitment ceremonies.

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