NORTH ROYALTON – Marley strutted in like he owned the place.

By no means a fraidy cat, he lounged in the sun, calmly flicking his tail, taking in the sights and sounds around him. It’s a doggie dog world at the Pet Carnival, and though he’s of the feline persuasion, Marley fit in with the pack purrfectly, as did his buddy Abbey.

“He is the calmest cat I’ve ever had in my life. He’s like a dog. He loves being in the car, which is weird. He’ll even stick his head out the car window like a dog,” his owner Brooke Medas, of North Royalton, said.

“And this one sits up like a dog and begs for treats,” her mom, Christine Boucek, said of Abbey, also a kitty.

Marley and Abbey certainly weren’t the most unusual carnival guests.

Melissa Dusek, of Dusek Farms, works for Dr. Adam Hechko, who organizes the carnival and owns and operates the North Royalton Animal Hospital. Dusek brought her zebu steer Boo and donkey Diva.

“These are my kids,” she smiled. “A lot of people don’t see farm animals every day.”

And Brenna Groh, 14, of North Royalton, had her hedgehog Zeus tag along, who was curled up tightly in a ball in her hand with only his face visible.

He piqued the interest of several people including Ken Loewenthal, of Seven Hills, who came up for a closer peek.

“We always pass by. I just thought it would be something different,” Groh, who has never been, said of bringing Zeus.

In its 11th year, the carnival, hosted Aug. 7 at the City Green, is meant to celebrate the bond between owners and pets, parents and their children, giving the animals, and kiddos, a unique outing complete with goodies and games.

Gela, a yellow lab, was soaking up every minute, immersed in a kiddie pool playfully snapping at a spray of water coming from a hose.

“She’s a good citizen,” her owner, Cindy Koenig, smiled watching her. “She really is. She goes on paw patrol for the National Park. She volunteers at Peninsula.”

The event draws all walks of life.

Oliver, a towering, 1-year-old Great Dane, met Paisley, an itty bitty, 3-month-old miniature dachshund, and the odd couple posed together for a photo.

“They are officially the biggest and smallest dogs here,” chuckled Strongsville resident Lisa Maretich, Oliver’s owner.

Nearby, Mayor Bob Stefanik and Council President Larry Antoskiewicz were making the rounds, and Stefanik couldn’t resist stopping to pet two greyhounds.

It was a family affair for Ward 3 Councilman Dan Langshaw, who brought along his twin sisters, Grace and Dana, his mother, Kathy, his son, Henry, and the family’s furry loved ones, Lucky, an Australian cow dog, and Bella, an Italian greyhound decked in pink gear.

“Yes, her highness, Princess Bella,” Langshaw laughed. “And, Bella met some actual greyhounds. Lucky was jealous.”

“And we tried out the obstacle course. Well, it was more the humans doing the obstacle course,” Dana Langshaw laughed.

Across the City Green, Beverly and Eugene Syder were enjoying the carnival with their babies Angel, 5 months, and Brutus, 10 years, both Chihuahuas.

“We come every year. We wouldn’t miss it,” Beverly Syder said.

They particularly love that the carnival and carnival goers are all big on rescue and adoption.

“With all the crazy going on, it’s great to see there is still good in the world,” Eugene said.

And that’s what the carnival is all about, a celebration of life.

“We get to meet new pet owners, see owners of the pets we take care of in the office,” Hechko said. “It was so nice to see them outside the office to talk and just enjoy their company, and the animals could come up to me and see me and not in a scary environment. They could just get love from me. It’s all about celebrating pets and all the joy they bring us.”

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