Old Lyme — You can talk about your New England sports dynasties, whether it's Belichick's Patriots, the UConn women hoopsters, or the Russell/Havlicek-era Celtics.
Make way, though, for Mogu and Kuma, two Pekingese dogs owned by New London's Rita Rivera. On Saturday morning, for the second year in a row, Mogu and Kuna won the Best Costume competition at the Parade of Paws Dog Show taking place as part of Old Lyme's annual Midsummer Festival celebration.
Despite rolling thunder, light rain and gray cloud cover, dozens of dogs, owners and canine enthusiasts hovered by the north bank of the Lieutenant River behind the Florence Griswold Museum for various Paw happenings. Along with the costumes, there was also a Best Trick competition and all-around judging in such breed categories as hound, terrier, working, toy, sporting, nonspecific and herding.
Mogu — or was it Kuma? — was dressed as a piece of sushi and, ah, the other Peke was masking as a sushi chef. Rivera's costumes were symbolic but effective, and the culinary theme followed last year's victorious motif when the dogs were respectively dressed as a hot dog and a sundae.
"They actually do like sushi," Rivera said after the awards were announced. "They also like hot dogs and ice cream. They'll pretty much eat anything happily."
Other costumes on hand were an Irish setter dressed as a leprechaun, a black mixed-breed dog named Lulu whose white spinal striping made for a convincing skunk, and Molly and Bella, two small dogs effectively disguised as bumblebees — the insects, not the tuna cans.
A large animal named Bailey, who bore resemblance to a sheepdog, won Best Trick for a choreographed dance routine with his master — a fluid spectacle reminiscent of Hank Hill's two-stepping with his bloodhound Ladybird on a famous "King of the Hill" episode.
The special celebrity judge for the event was Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times and author of a bestselling memoir called "The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout."
Scout was in fact on hand for the proceedings, and, from the middle of the crowd, actually barked hello on request from event emcee Victor Darr.
Signing copies of "The Puppy Diaries" after the Parade of Paws, Abramson said the judging offer was an unexpected side bonus of having written the book.
"I never anticipated actually getting to do something like this, but it was a ton of fun judging today," Abramson said. She said it was her first time for such duties, though she was a "nervous participant" previously when Scout was entered in a competition.
As for whether Scout's barking Saturday could be quoted in The Day, Abramson spoke assuredly in the context of her role at The Times. "Anything Scout barked is on the record," she said.
Vista Vittles, the 100 percent natural peanut butter dog treats available throughout the region, sponsored the Parade of Paws. Darr, a manager for Vista Vittles, said it was their third year of involvement with the event.
"I think everyone had a great time, and the weather held off long enough for us," he said. "There were some great dogs here today."
In terms of actual winners in each breed category, Darr said the idea was that all the entrants are winners. "It's not really so much about serious competition as it is getting dogs and dog lovers together at something as nice as the Old Lyme Midsummer Festival," he said.
One dog, though, was certainly an unofficial winner. Knox, a 16-week-old puppy wearing a cloak that read "ADOPT ME," was continually besieged by adoring animal lovers throughout the morning.
A handsome mix of Labrador retriever, German shepherd, bassett hound and collie, Knox was brought to the event by Senan Gorman of Farmington. He and his wife and three children foster dogs and try to find them good homes, and Knox is one of two pups, from a litter of five, that the Gormans are still trying to place.
"Judging from the reaction of people here today, I think we'll do OK," Gorman said.
His daughter, Gabby, had mixed emotions. Her favorite of the litter, Bo, was adopted last week. "I was really sad when it happened, but I'm better. I know we're helping to get them to good families who love them," she said.