Hattie was just a puppy when she entered the lives of Chris and Amanda Warner of New Orleans’ Broadmoor neighborhood.
She came to them four years ago through “a wonderful lady” who lives on farmland in Hattiesburg, Miss., and rescues both Great Danes and Chihuahuas (“opposites attract”), the Warners said.
Hattie’s original family had to give her up, along with another Great Dane puppy and the parent dogs, because of a divorce and foreclosure on their home.
These days, Hattie’s family has grown to include Charlotte, 4, and John Owen, born 18 weeks ago. And she is clearly the queen of the Warners’ hearts.
But her reign is about to extend even further: Hattie Warner has been voted queen of the canine Mystic Krewe of Barkus parade, which rolls at 2 p.m. Sunday in the French Quarter.
This year’s king is Jacques Miller Wallis, a Vizsla — a Hungarian hunting breed — who was chosen one of the Windsor Court’s 140 New Orleans Characters in 2010.
While the king ascends through the ranks of the Barkus organization, usually after being a duke or grand marshal, the queen is selected by secret ballot and is always a rescued/adopted dog.
The Warners had planned to rescue an older Great Dane, but the woman in Hattiesburg contacted them when the puppies arrived and they immediately committed to one of them, not knowing the gender or the coloring. Once they took her home, Hattie’s 40-pound, 4-month-old body quickly grew. By the time they had their first baby eight months later, Hattie was a well-mannered, loving, protective family member, the Warners said.
Her family has noticed that Hattie’s favorite activities include keeping her “dad” on pace during his morning run. She loves to help him meet new friends at Audubon Park and clean up the kitchen.
She keeps the house safe and greets passers-by, especially other dogs, though she is not a fan of the mailman or any other delivery person who comes to the house. And she’ll do anything for peanut butter, even asking for it in her “Chewbacca voice.”
Plenty of peanut butter has been stockpiled in the Warner home as Hattie prepares for her reign over the Barkus parade.
As for her majesty’s royal ensemble, “she is still trying to choose her outfit and is having a hard time deciding. She wants to make sure it fits the theme of the parade. Stay tuned!” Amanda Warner said.
“All in all,” Chris Warner said, “she is keeping a level head and is just honored to be a part of such a special event during the Carnival season.”
King Jacques, who is celebrating his fifth birthday this month, shares a home with Virginia Miller and Bruce Wallis, as well as a 19-year-old cat named Cleo and a 6-year-old donkey named Tula. He has his own Facebook page and email address and he goes to work every day at Beuerman Miller Fitzgerald, a communications firm.
But it’s not all work and no play for his majesty, who enjoys mountain climbing in the Adirondacks, crawfishing in Mississippi, running with other dogs, and socializing generally, according to his biography on the Krewe of Barkus website.
The bio also notes that Vizslas are a very old hunting breed, and Jacques is no exception. “He loves to find quail.” When it comes to other species, he “never met a person, dog or lizard he didn’t at least try to make friends with (it doesn’t always work out)!”
Some 2,000 dogs, along with their human escorts, are expected to participate in the Barkus parade, said Matt Rinard, poster artist for the krewe that is in its 21st year. And that’s not counting the current royalty, court and grand marshal as well as a number of past monarchs who will join in the canine caper, which benefits area animal organizations.
Always a leader of the pack when it comes to timely themes, Barkus has collared the reality TV craze for its 2013 festivities. “Tails and Tiaras: Here Comes Honey Bow Wow” is the title of this year’s parade, with “Reality TV Bites Barkus” as the subtitle.
“Everyone is really excited about the theme,” Rinard said.
The subtitle, he pointed out, opens the gate to a wide field of possible costumes, from “‘Swamp People’ to ‘The Bachelor’ to ‘American Idol,’ whatever your favorite TV reality show is.”
During the parade, King Jacques and Queen Hattie, along with their royal court, will be toasted from the VIP reviewing stand at Good Friends Bar, at the corner of Dauphine and St. Ann streets. The parade begins and ends at Armstrong Park, at Orleans Avenue and North Rampart Street, where the pre- and post-pawties will be held.
Only dogs who are registered krewe members with parade tags will be allowed in the parade. However, membership in the parade krewe is open to all dogs and can be purchased Sunday at the pre-pawty, which starts at 10:30 a.m. A $50 fee includes parade registration for one dog and one human escort.
Party animals of all stripes are welcome to watch the costumed canines strut their styles. The krewe’s human organizers, borrowing a couple of words from reality TV star Honey Boo Boo, promise to unleash a beautimous Barkus parade, one well worth redneckognizing.
And the most beautimous of all participants — at least in the eyes of the Warner family — will be Her Highness Hattie.