Monday, November 10, 2014

What do dog lover's love?

A modest supply. Phil sits atop his new bed with the contents of his goodie bags on display.
This weekend SAT made time to pop over to the Dog Lover’s Show and see what dog lover’s love. Dogs, of course. There were plenty of dogs on display – young and old, purebred and bitsers, pet shop puppies and those rescued from puppy farms – including Oscar, after whom the campaign for Oscar’s Law takes its name.

Deborah Tranter
Deb Tranter with Oscar (you can read more about him here). Oscar's Law is intended to abolish cruel puppy factories.
Big pharma and major pet food companies were represented, as were very small businesses like Dawn and her son (they don’t like being in photos) from Spoilt Puppy Made to Measure Clothing. Dawn hand-sews every piece and they retail for the same price as mass-produced clothing. It takes her around six months to prepare for a show and her profit margin is slim. But she has five dogs herself and values quality. They drove up from Victoria to be part of the show.

One of Dawn's creations spotted out and about yesterday: an over-the-shoulder dog carrier. This little dog is perfectly mobile but, like Phil, he won't walk away from the house or car - only towards it. What's that about?
I was staggered at the range of products available. Collars dotted with Swarovski crystals, luxury beds, bow ties for dogs (and cats), pet portraiture, home-baked dog treats, dog jewellery etc. It seems we love to spoil our dogs. 

Fluffy dog beds by Pods4Pets.
I was stunned at just how many free samples were on offer (mostly food) and just by circulating in the exhibition halls managed to passively acquire several kilograms of it.

I nevew knew one could put 100s and 1000s on pigs ears, but people do. This is a sample of treats that look good enough for humans to eat. (Just a warning - even treats with natural ingredients should be fed in moderation).
The major referral hospitals were there, and I caught up with Christine Hawke from the Animal Referral Hospital (Phil’s dentist – although she’s now out of work as the last piece of the last tooth – aka the root of all evil – was removed last year). The University of Sydney team were out in force, as were the team from the Small Animal Specialist Hospital (SASH).

Dr Christine Hawke from the Animal Referral Hospital and Sydney Pet Dentistry.

Malibu from Shoot-ya-pooch Pet Photography chills out.
We ran into lots of clients, a few patients (exhibitors were permitted to bring dogs, but not members of the public) and a lot of people we knew including exhibitor Jenny Parker and her companion Malibu.

Malibu on her own couch.
Photographer Jenny Parker with Malibu (apologies Jenny, your photos are much better than mine, but someone had to document the moment).
Sydney dogs are very lucky and clearly indulged (although they may not be aware of much of the fuss), but there was opportunity to give to dogs in need. The RSPCA and Animal Welfare League had a strong presence, as did rescue organisations like the Greyhound Adoption Program. Vets Beyond Borders were raising funds for their programs and Michelle from the City of Sydney Council was giving away bags made from recycled council banners containing information on responsible pet ownership.

There was one awkward moment in the kissing booth (dog kissing booths seem to be all-the-rage of late at animal-themed events, thanks to Instagram and Twitter). This Samoyed, I was told, gives you a peck when you say "kisses". I should have seen it coming, but when I said kisses he went above and beyond. 

The awkward pre-kiss moment.

I paid 50 cents for a kiss and got at least a dollar's worth!!!
It was a fascinating morning. Because Phil doesn't need it, I am donating most of his swag to some less-well-off dogs. And really, much as he liked sniffing the bags, he was just excited because I came home.

At the end of the day I think the most useful part of the show was the behaviour and training talks. You can buy all the stuff in the world but its the relationship you have with your dog, and the behaviour of each party, that is most important in ensuring their welfare. So it was nice to see the stands packed with dog owners and dog lovers watching the shows.