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Congress goes to the dogs: Pooches descend on Capitol Hill for annual Halloween parade

From ‘bipawtisan’ to ‘Howl-o-ween,’ the puns flow freely

A dog from Sen. Steve Daines’ office is dressed as Wonder Woman for the annual Bipawtisan Howl-o-ween parade in the Hart Senate Office Building on Tuesday.
A dog from Sen. Steve Daines’ office is dressed as Wonder Woman for the annual Bipawtisan Howl-o-ween parade in the Hart Senate Office Building on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

It’s not that Stanley the beagle was camera shy — he’s got his own Instagram and is accustomed to posing for photos. It’s that he didn’t want to be dressed as a dragon, and so he wouldn’t cooperate as his owner, Lale Morrison, tried to pose him.

“He is not a big fan of it,” said Morrison, Rep. Jared Moskowitz’s chief of staff, at the annual “Bipawtisan Howl-o-ween Dog Parade” on Tuesday afternoon.

Stanley attended with Bon Bon and Pepper, white and black standard poodle sisters who were costumed as a Slytherin and a Hufflepuff, respectively, as part of a Harry Potter theme among Moskowitz’s staffers. They were among the dozens of dogs whose owners — including members of Congress and staff — paraded them through the Hart Senate Office Building atrium Tuesday afternoon, as has become Halloween tradition in Congress.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, uses a bullhorn to emcee Tuesday’s dog parade. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

North Carolina Republican Sen. Thom Tillis started the event as a small gathering in a Senate office building hallway several years ago. But the number of attendees quickly grew, necessitating a venue change.

“All of a sudden I go out, and it’s like 50 dogs and 100 people,” Tillis said in 2021. “Well, the Capitol Police came around, and they thought it was like some sort of spontaneous, unauthorized protest — oopsie.”

Tillis was slated to lead the event again this year, but a bout of COVID-19 sidelined him, and Sen. Mitt Romney took over instead.

Wielding a bullhorn, the Utah Republican was an engaging, if somewhat awkward, host.

“Oh my goodness, is this Uncle Sam, is that it? And Dolly Parton? Wait, we have a threesome going on here. We have two Uncle Sams and one Dolly Parton. It’s the way life was meant to be,” Romney said, as a trio of pooches, two with red Uncle Sam hats fastened to their heads, approached.

Charlie from the Senate Foreign Relations Committee came dressed as a Chinese spy balloon on Tuesday. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

​​While Romney counts himself an animal lover, dogs infamously became a flash point in his past presidential campaigns when a story resurfaced about him putting his Irish setter on the roof of his station wagon during a family road trip. Romney said his dog “enjoyed” riding in the kennel on top of the car, but that didn’t stop people from waving “Dogs Against Romney” outside the Westminster Dog Show in 2012.

At the dog parade Tuesday, the puns flowed freely (“bipawtisan,” “pawrade”) and the costumes hit on patriotic, cultural or, in some cases, regional or office themes.

A mini golden doodle named Izzy from Arizona Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly’s office dressed as an astronaut. (Kelly is a former astronaut.) A mutt from Maine independent Sen. Angus King’s office was dressed as a lobster. And a golden retriever from House Majority Whip Tom Emmer’s office was dressed as Air Bud, complete with a University of North Carolina Tar Heels basketball jersey.

Jake, a golden retriever dressed as Ken from the Barbie movie, got a repurposed costume from his owner, Graham Owens, counsel for the Senate Committee on Small Business.

“It was my shirt that I wore last weekend,” Owens said of Jake’s costume.

Costumed dogs begin to arrive for Tuesday’s parade, which featured many dog-related puns, including “bipawtisan,” “pawrade” and “Howl-o-ween.” (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

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