To have and to howl: Owners stage dog wedding

Posted: Sunday, December 26, 2004

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. — The bride wore nothing more than a lace skirt, a veil and fur. The groom was so nervous he had to go outside to potty before the nuptials began.

Molly, a 6-year-old schnauzer and Harley, a 1-year-old Yorkiepoo — a Yorkshire terrier-poodle mix — were joined in forever friendship during a 2 p.m. union ceremony recently at Grand Island's Riverside Lodge.

"It was love at first sight," said Harley's grandma, Tobin Guerrero, who helped Harley into his black tuxedo cape, black bow tie and black construction paper top hat.

Harley ran in circles and was kissing women as he awaited his bride's arrival. She came to the ceremony just five minutes before start time.

"She's fresh from the beauty shop," said Molly's mom, Jan Thayer, as she led in the 16-pound gray beauty.

As Molly slipped into her skirt, her dad, Ernie Thayer, waited nearby in a full suit and freshly shined shoes, ready to walk her down the aisle.

"I was just told to show up," Ernie said. "I'm not exactly sure what's going on."

In fact, most of the residents at the retirement community were equally baffled at who was going to walk down the aisle.

"We just came — everyone was given an invitation," said Helen Thurston as she took a seat on the bride's side.

But as a carpet of white paper was rolled down the aisle, many of the more than 60 guests had figured out the reason for celebration.

Rose petals were strewn as Harley's uncle, Colton Guerrero, led him into the makeshift chapel in the lodge's Woodland Room.

He sat on his haunches near an archway decorated with red and purple balloons and turned to see his love.

"If anyone here can provide just cause as to why this friendship should not be celebrated, let him bark now or forever hold his peace," said the Rev. Robert Harms of Trinity Lutheran Church as he conducted his first dog wedding after 57 years in the ministry.

Hearing no barking, Harms continued with the vows.

"It was hilarious," resident Ursula Klatt said. "We need that from time to time."

Both dogs visit the residents as part of pet therapy at the retirement community that Jan Thayer owns.

While rumors of how Harley proposed ranged from a chance meeting at the fire hydrant to a candlelight dinner over Alpo — Tobin Guerrero set the record straight.

"It was an arranged marriage," she said. "Harley's marrying for money."

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