Rockton World’s County Fair (yes, world) is a classic event filled with midway, flea market-like vendors and farm animals – llamas, cows, goats, sheep and horses – in Rockton, Ontario near Hamilton in Canada. The Fair runs annually on Canadian Thanksgiving weekends and has for 164 years.
In typical county fair fashion, livestock is paraded in arenas like pedigree pooches and barns are filled with four-footed friends (some food). There’s always plenty of poop. Ah… the poop.
I love the Rockton County Fair. But two things put a damper on my dog-friendly experience:
- Dogs are allowed into the fairgrounds, but not in most buildings including livestock barns.
- Victor, my schnoodle, found a giant fresh mound of cow poo and dove in neck first thoroughly smearing himself. Fantastic.
So why does my crazy schnoodle roll in excrement and anything stinky?
Here are three expert theories:
First, maybe it’s a desire to effectively hunt the funnel cakes, poutine and blooming onion at the fair.
Poop theory #1 – Mask Me
Instinct, according to some canine behavourists, is the prevailing theory about the canine desire to roll in feces. Wolves do it (we think) to mask themselves while tracking prey.
So bring on the fair food and let’s scavenge. Victor and I (yes, he had some too. Don’t judge) sat down with a carton of poutine to watch the high-level amateur jumping event that started as we arrived (see horsetrotting.net). The riders did well, but the horses were a bit rattled by the fair noises and high-flying rides in the distance.
Then there’s the poutine: the trendy food-of-the-moment in Canada is perhaps an attempt to bridge the obesity gap between Canada and the U.S. Supposedly, our fat issues are lagging slightly behind our friends to the south, so we’ve decided to pour gravy and cheese over a heaping mound of deep-fried potatoes and call it a national dish.
However, Country fairs have never been about healthy eating – a little ironic considering the agricultural focus.
Poop Theory #2 – Text Me
Another theory about why dogs roll in stinky stuff is that they are pack animals bringing back a message about ‘good things out there’ to other pack members.
Well, message received. Long after the pot ‘o poutine is finished, I’m standing at a hand-washing station using a ton of paper towels and a small stream of water to clean Victor’s neck and the Kurgo harness (available on Amazon) he wears that helps me – or him – pull through festival crowds.
He took a nosedive into the cow manure seconds after sniffing it and now I’m frantically wiping great wads of poop off his neck, hoping not to stink up the car.
Maybe this should have been expected where cattle are paraded about to be judged – but it took me by surprise. He dove fast.
Poop Theory #3 – Unleash Me
The third and less supported theory about why my dog has ‘perfumed’ himself is my favourite: dogs roll in smelly stuff for the sheer joy of it. What’s stinky to us is glorious to them and they seize the moment, carpe diem, to gleefully get their full of a good thing. The putrid lure of pure bliss is too strong to resist.
I’m not sure if Victor loved his entire day at the fair, but he did appreciate not being left behind. We were limited where we could go, although I admit carrying him through the craft barn where we were met with many smiles especially when I bought stuff (before he rolled).
He flaked out when we got home (after his bath of course) and you know what they say, a tired dog is a happy dog – as happy as a pup in poop. And boy, did that make him happy.
Bring on the fair, and why not include the pets? They can’t do more damage than a herd of well-fed cattle.
UPDATE: Unfortunately, as of 2019, The Rockton World’s Fair is NO longer dog friendly. Boo. Only service dogs and dogs entering the pet competition can enter the grounds (and the latter must leave immediately after the competition).
Want more help demystifying your dog? Check out National Geographic’s Speak Dog, available from Amazon. (affiliate link)