Mardi Gras ends and the canine fun begins | St. Tammany Community News

For some North Shore residents, the best part of carnival season comes a few days after the last festive float, marching band and dance crew have passed. After the Fat Tuesday celebrations, that’s when the puppies parade.

The Saturday and Sunday following Mardi Gras will be dedicated to canine best friends with the Krewe du Pooch in Mandeville on March 5 and Mardi Paws in Covington on March 6.

Mardi Paws, part of the St. Tammany Carnival scene for over 25 years, returns to downtown Covington for the third year and will feature the heroic K9 named Layka, who has been chosen to serve as famous grand marshal. The parade will roll at 2 p.m.

The Old Mandeville Business Association’s Krewe du Pooch Foot Parade and Costume Contest begins at noon at Lake Mandeville.

The Krewe du Pooch’s theme is “A Fairy Tail”, and the Krewe Mardi Paws will ride on the theme of “80s Pawp Culture”.

“The clique and their human escorts will pay homage to 80s movies, TV shows, music, toys and fashions. Expect lots of neon lights and big hair, and expect everything from ‘The Breakfast Club’ to ‘Thriller’ and Cabbage Patch Dolls to Rubik’s Cubes,” said Mardi Paws founder Denise Gutnisky.

Gutnisky said that since its inception in 1994, the parade has been a fundraiser for nonprofit organizations that help dogs and children in the community. The current beneficiary is Scott’s Wish, which has been serving people and pets since 2008.

In 2021, Scott’s Wish launched the In Honor of Duco Project, which honors elite military dogs and raises funds to help with any specialized medical care they may need after their military service.

Tuesday Paws, Grand Marshal Layka, a Belgian Malinois, recently received funding from the Duco project. Layka is credited with saving the lives of his handler, US Army Ranger Julian McDonald, and his teammates in a 2012 shootout in Afghanistan.

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Layka was the first dog to receive the Medal of Heroism since World War II, and she also received the 2016 American Humane Hero Dog Award. She was on the cover of National Geographic in 2014 and in a 2017 HBO documentary called “War Dog: A Soldier’s Best Friend”.

Layka and McDonald, himself a Purple Heart recipient, will lead the pack on a signature float that includes custom throws, Gutnisky said.

Parade participants can pre-register at or register on-site the day of the parade beginning at 12:30 p.m. The registration and parade start point is at 212 E. Kirkland St., in Covington. Registration is $25 per dog and up to six humans can accompany their canine companion. Any additional puppy escort is $10.

The parade ends at the Covington Trailhead, 410 N. New Hampshire St., for a post-parade party.

Mardi Paws dogs must be dressed in a costume that reflects the theme, and floats must be non-motorized such as wagons, buggies, or shopping carts.

The judges will award prizes in several categories.

The Krewe du Pooch event, which supports animal rescue organizations, will feature live music, food vendors, pet adoptions and children’s activities.

The entry fee is $35 per animal and five people are allowed to accompany the parading dog. To register, visit On-site registration will also be possible.

In case of rain, Krewe du Pooch will take place on March 12 and Mardi Paws will take place on March 13.

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