PORTLAND – This Memorial Day weekend, dog owners need not mourn the last off-leash days of the season on the East End Beach. On May 25, they will be able to, “Celebrate dogs and all the boneheaded things they do,” at the BONEHEADS Beach Party from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The BONEHEADS are the canine stars of the new picture book by Maine author and illustrator Melissa Sweet. Her new book, “Tupelo Rides The Rails,” is the story of Tupelo and the BONEHEADS, a band of lost dogs that find their way to new homes thanks to a passing train and the book’s hero, Garbage Pail Tex.

In conjunction with the book, Sweet will be launching an online effort to support animal shelters by offering BONEHEADS memberships and passing the proceeds on to shelters in the form of auctionable artwork from the book. The Web site, www.mydogisabonehead.com, launches on May 25, the day of the celebration.

At the event, families and dog lovers can help dogs find their perfect homes by either playing a game that matches the book’s dog characters to their new homes or meeting real dogs ready for adoption from The Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland.

The Maine Narrow Gauge Railroad will be offering discounted train rides from the East End Beach for dogs and their owners. Anyone who buys a signed copy of “Tupelo Rides The Rails” will get a free train ride, plus a raffle ticket to win a prize donated by Portland pet retailer, Fetch.

There will be other kid-friendly and dog-friendly activities, including dog portraits by photographer, Marti Stone, that will celebrate dogs and raise money for animal shelters in need.

A Rockport resident, Sweet has illustrated more than 70 children’s books from board books to nonfiction and jacket covers. Her collages and paintings have appeared in many publications including the New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, on greeting cards, cookbooks and posters. Her toys for eeBoo have won the Oppenheim and Parents Choice Awards. The first book she wrote and illustrated, “Carmine: A Little More Red,” was a New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books, 2005.

Go and do

What: The BONEHEADS Beach Party, a day to celebrate dogs and all the boneheaded things they do.

When: Sunday, May 25, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Where: East End Beach, Portland

FMI: Curious City, 699-2755

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