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Valentine's Day was the ideal day to check out an event even sweeter than a heart-shaped box of chocolates — the annual Puppy Parade at the Wild West Winterfest Sunday at the Gallatin Valley Fairgrounds.

"This is the day we like to say goes to the dogs; it's a lot of fun," said Sue Shockley, the fairgrounds manager.

Pooches of all shapes and sizes came out for the event.

Pomeranians met up with Bernese Mountain dogs, and Australian shepherds gave Labrador retrievers and Scottish terriers the obligatory sniff.

The dogs were on their best behavior, thanks in part to Nancy Tanner, dog owner and trainer for Paws and People, a local dog-training facility that sponsored the event. Many of the puppies and adult dogs that came out Sunday have been trained by Tanner, but even non-dog owners attended the shows.

"We get people without dogs here who can check out different breeds and see what they like," said Tanner.

Lola, a 6-month-old chocolate poodle from Lolo came out with her human, Shelly Hogan from Bozeman, for the Puppy Parade. Lola's grandparents, (Hogan's parents) even came from Missoula to see the curly haired pup strut her stuff.

"They're lots of work when they're puppies, but they're worth it," said Hogan.

Zuzu, a 3-month-old Welsh corgi hailing from Sweetgrass, waddled across the runway, bringing smiles from the audience of about 100 people. Afterward, she hung out in the crowd basking in all the attention and showing the other dogs, even a German shepherd, that she's the boss.

"The day has been great," said Zuzu's companion Tori Santos. "It's fun and good socialization for her."

Zuzu and Santos were both trained by Tanner.

"It's amazing. Once you learn how to teach a puppy, they really respond. It's like learning how to talk puppy," said Santos.

It wasn't all puppies at the event. Following the parade was an action-packed dancing and canine talent contest. Even the more mature dogs and their owners got on the floor to wow the crowd with their dancing skills. Jumping and prancing to songs like "Girls Just Want To Have Fun," and "Turn, Turn, Turn," the well-trained dogs (and their owners) competed for prizes and, of course, treats.

Zeus, a 2-year-old Pug, won the talent show with his lively country dancing. He'll be snoozing in luxury with his prize: a new bed.

While Sunday's doggie events were all about having fun, there was also a greater cause being met. All the proceeds from the entry fees went to Rolling Dog Ranch Animal Sanctuary.

The 140-acre sanctuary, located about 30 minutes outside of Missoula, is a permanent home for blind, deaf, and severely disabled animals. Animals are only accepted to the ranch when enough funds are obtained to support it for the remainder of its life. With the proceeds from the event Sunday, one to two animals will be able to relocate to the ranch.

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