Summer in the city. The annual street festivals have begun. Native Torontonians and visitors alike are donning their sandals, sunglasses and tanning lotions and heading out to enjoy the warm weather activities.
Like most Saturday mornings, I started out early to gather fresh local produce in the Beaches neighborhood. The streets surrounding the neighbourhood were closed to traffic and tents were lined up side by side. This weekend we were celebrating man’s best friend, our cherished family members, our dogs.
Woofstock began in 2003 in the Distillery District and has grown and moved to larger premises to accommodate the nearly 300,000 pet lovers who attend with their four-footed friends. This is the largest canine gathering in North America. CNN actually beamed coverage around the world for an entire weekend in the past. Last count was over 15 million media impressions on this event.
It’s quirky and it’s fun. Strolling past the merchants of canine haute couture, gourmet treats, personalized furniture and other pet must-have paraphernalia and animal welfare organizations, you fail to see anyone not wearing a smile. I was in awe that all the pooches were so well-behaved. No one was embarrassed. It was heart warming. It was sheer joy as the animals and owners were brought together in their common bond of unconditional love.
There were fashion shows with small dogs waddling at their top speed to keep up with the leggy models accompanying them down the runway. So many furry fashionistas were sashaying the grassy avenues of the park. Zany costumes were spotted everywhere and sometimes ruined when the hairy models jumped into a fountain for a quick dip.
Talent shows were hosted and judged by Canada’s funny men, comedian Colin Macherie and Mark Breslin of Yuk Yuk’s.
I missed the Ugliest Dog Competition and can’t imagine who might have won that event. They were all so lovable but someone won the $1,000 prize. Mr. and Ms Canine Canada or Who’s Canada’s Next Top Dog? Stupid dog tricks and a Rescue Walk-a-thon were just part of this two-day event.
Yappy Hour is not to be missed. Dogs are welcome in all pubs and cafes. A DJ provides the dance music.
Come strut your stuff with the top dogs and mutts if you are in Toronto in late May. And remember — what happens in Woodbine Park stays in Woodbine Park.
85 King St. East