The Nicholas P. Sims Library lawn was overrun Wednesday with some of the grumpiest, friendliest, cutest, strangest, scaliest, most talented, smallest, most colorful, laziest and largest pets in Ellis County as part of its annual pet show.
Siblings Isabella, Jacob and Isaac Valdez of Midlothian entered their un-named tarantula in the “strangest pet” category - the spider’s furry toes and wispy molting would have taken the category, even if it wasn’t the only entry.
The Valdezes entered their tarantula in the contest because of his unusual lifestyle.
“He’s nocturnal,” Isaac, 7, said. “He eats crickets and other bugs, and meal worms.”
Isabella, 10, said the spider also eats earthworms on occasion. They get food for it at PETCO and in their own backyard.
“We usually get food from the outdoors,” she said.
In the decidedly cuddlier category, Missy the Yorkshire terrier took top honors as the cutest pet, clad in a bow and pink bandana.
She was entered by Tiffany, 7, and 10-year-old Tobi Fayiga and friends Lade, 10, Layo, 7, and 2-year-old Toby Adeusi, who are visiting from the United Kingdom.
“She likes to play chase,” said Tobi Fayiga, who brought along a handful of bacon strips as the dog’s favorite treat.
“She likes to guard people,” Tiffany added, saying it was her idea to enter Missy into the show.
Ellis County SPCA board members provided judging for the event, saying that multiple entries in many of the categories made for tough decisions.
“It was very difficult. They were all cute or friendly,” judge Gayle Tuma said. “They were all winners.”
The SPCA enjoys helping out with the annual event because it provides a good opportunity to teach and reward good pet ownership, Johnna Wallace said.
“We want to promote people taking care of their animals and spay and neutering their animals,” she said, noting the library also has a wide selection of pet care books.
Other judges included Bob Mahlstedt and Susan Kosoris, with Martha Weedon serving as mistress of ceremonies.
Children’s Librarian Nelda Curlin, who joined Sims in January, said she was keeping the more than 10 year-old tradition alive.
“It just an annual occasion the kids all enjoy,” she said. “It’s always one of the best programs we have.”
Stephanie Baze of Waxahachie was on hand with children Shane, 7, and Morgan, whose mottled Daschund, Allie, won in the most colorful category for the family’s inaugural entry.
“This is our first time,” Baze said. “It’s fun.”