It’s an event that’s gone to the dogs, in a good way. Featuring racing wiener dogs and a one-of-a-kind skateboarding bulldog, the Vancouver Island Pet Expo launches this weekend at Pearkes Recreation Centre.
This second annual trade show allows vendors to network and show off the latest and greatest in pet care and nutrition. The event is also raising money this year for B.C. Guide Dog Services and it’s sister charity, Autism Support Dogs.
Expo visitors can experience the skill of a guide dog, if they are willing to be blindfolded and led around an obstacle course.
“You give your full trust into a four-legged animal,” said Jill Stefanyk, producer of the Pet Expo, and who participated blindfolded with a guide dog in downtown Victoria. “It was very impressive how dog stops right at the curb. I’m happy he didn’t walk into traffic.”
The expo again features the light-hearted wiener dog races, with 20 to 25 dogs entered Saturday and Sunday, with a few coming from as far as Washington State. “It’s hilarious,” Stefanyk said. “Wiener dogs don’t really go straight. They tend to go in all directions.”
Famed and largely self-taught English bulldog Buttercup will show off his skateboarding talent both days. The Academy of Vancouver Island Dogs will show the agility and jump of its canine students.
The event also features vendors for non-dogs, such as cats and birds, and groups that offer courses on pet First Aid, for instance. The expo is focused on raising money and raising awareness for the non-profit Autism Support Dogs, a service which requires the same intense and and expensive training effort as any other guide dog.
“It costs $37,000 to train an autism support dog and there is a three year wait list (for a dog),” Stefanyk said. “We want to help out.”
Last year’s inaugural Pet Expo drew hundreds of people and dozens of vendors. With the level care people spend on their animals, Stefanyk said a pet exhibition was an event waiting to happen.
“Everybody loves their pets and it’s a huge industry. Why not have an event for our four-legged friends?” Stefanyk said. “This has been really well received by the pet community of the whole island.”
The Vancouver Island Pet Expo runs Saturday, May 26,10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, May 27, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Pearkes Recreation Centre, 3100 Tillicum Rd. See www.vancouverislandpetexpo.com.