Reptiles must be the new rabbits this Easter. An unprecedented number of vendors, mostly snake breeders, were at the Canadian Pet Expo this holiday weekend (April 3-5) at the International Centre in Mississauga, Ontario. Visitors could take home almost any variety of baby snakes for $75 and up. Fortunately, a reptile rescue organizations was nearby reminding people of what can happen to exotics – such as the sunken-shelled turtle on display – when they are not properly cared for and fed correctly.
Yet this show is all about pets (It was previously called The All About Pet Show) and not only exotics. Dogs dominated the venue, as both participants and spectators. Breeder’s row featured Kennel Club Breeds, as usual. But a new company has the reins of the event this year, and there are a few changes:
First, pets are welcome, so dogs strolled the exhibitor floor with everyone else. Other than the purebred participants in the PetValue Cat Show, I saw only one visiting cat. He was comfortable, friendly and clearly used to riding his people mom’s shoulder through crowds.
Second, presentations were fewer, and no schedule was visible or distributed (other than online). Primarily, Ultimate Air Dogs Canada dock diving competitors jumped off a landing into the water throughout the day, and Woofjocks made an appearance in the ring between the bleachers each day. Promoting reward training, Woofjocks dogs (family pets) and their handlers run agility courses and jump obstacles – the latter event culminates with Pot Roast, a stubby-legged and crowd-pleasing English bulldog, crashing through the final seven-poll high jump.
Highlights of the show included some new, and returning, favourites:
- The Ontario Cavy Club Show and Competition exhibiting a variety of cute guinea pigs
- The Dog Groomers Association of Ontario sponsored the Rescue Rodeo Grooming Competition featuring shelter dogs available for adoption after their new looks are complete
- A 45-foot trailer of snakes, lizards and crocodile from Reptilia reptile museum in Vaughan, Ontario.
- Pilots N Paws Canada, a new organization that recruits private pilots with planes (and others) to help transport rescue animals from crowded shelters to those with space (watch for more about this organization on dogtrotting.net)
- The Pet Network in Canada, a cable channel expanding its reach and promoting its new show, Talent Hounds
- Hands On Exotics is popular with kids because where else can you pet a wallaby? This company rescues exotic pets such as lemurs, foxes, and tropical birds then shows them off at schools, camps, and birthday parties.
Here are some tips for surviving and enjoying the Easter-weekend Canadian Pet Expo:
- Buy tickets in advance online (or from a discount coupon service) because the line-ups to get in are long. Really long. By-pass the hour or so wait and walk straight through the pre-purchased ticket line.
- Bring lunch and water. The food at these places is overpriced and high calorie, plus any pets you bring aren’t allowed in the eating area.
- Print the schedule from the website before you get there. There aren’t any printed versions and little signage.
- Stock your pockets with Toonies and Loonies to donate to rescue organizations to win prizes.
- Tote your own bag. None are given out at the doors as in previous years.
- Leave your horse expectations at home. Sadly, equine presence was not part of the show this year, but check out last year’s Mane Event at http://horsetrotting.net/2014/04/25/all-about-pets-and-horses-in-toronto-easter-weekend/
Check out the Events Page of dogtrotting.net to see what other fun pet-themed events are coming up this summer, or watch for my next post listing as many as I could find in Ontario.