We won a contest … just walking by. Well, my dog Victor won a contest. Just by being him.
One o’clock at Dogtober Fest – an outdoor dog event near London, Ontario – dogs gathered on the green for the contest portion of the day: biggest dog, smallest dog, best trick, best smile, longest ears… you get the idea.
I thought they were lined up for the portrait session in the gazebo (which Victor did first – photo soon), so I lingered near the back of the pack.
“What about that one?” someone yelled and pointed to my dog.
You see, Victor has almost no tail – only a nub barely an inch long. Timing was perfect. We arrived while the ‘shortest tail’ category was being judged.
“I concede,” said the woman with a two-inch tailed dog.
Someone handed me a bag of Craft Beer Northern dog treats made from spent beer grain. We won! So, we headed to the refreshment tent to chill over a flight of beer. Phew. We earned it.
Dogtober Fest is now on my favourite dog festivals list for two reasons:
First, the organizers worked actively to make this an ‘event’ directing people to activities:
- a wading pool-sized ball pit filled with treats to find,
- a ‘make your own’ pup cake station,
- pumpkin painting for the kids,
- pet photography portraits,
- a barbeque and beer flights to taste five different varieties from local brewery Anderson Craft Ales
- and a scavenger hunt through the wooded trails for small prizes, and Victor got another set of PawZ Protect (affiliate link), which work well for him (check out our winter review).
Second, the location. Solitude Nature Reserve hosted Dogtober Fest, now an annual fundraiser for CanFix, an organization dedicated to promoting pet spay and neutering. Solitude Nature Reserve is owned and managed by the Phil McNamee Charitable Foundation to preserve a natural environment where the public (and dogs) can enjoy and appreciate nature.
Trails meander through the woods, and today Dogtober Fest participants are encouraged to participate in a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt. (I only found three items on the list). While giving it our best try, we discover several barbeque grills and picnic tables throughout the site, Muskoka chairs for lounging and watching nature go by, and a newly installed boardwalk weaving its way through the marshier sections of the woods. Most trails lead back to the reserve’s central pond.
Solitude Nature Reserve is open for day use from dawn to dusk, though overnight tent camping is allowed at six sites with wooden platforms and compost toilets. And it’s all free. That’s right. No charge for entry or camping.
Before heading off to a dog event where I knew people would want to pet what turned out to be a very over-stimulated crazy terrier, I reached for my bottle of Ecos for Pets Between Baths Grooming Spray (affiliate link) I was given by Ecos at SuperZoo 2018. All I do is spray either a cloth or the dog (I spray the dog) and wipe a towel over Victor refreshing his fur. Voila, he smells slightly of peppermint with a hint of avocado.
“He’ll very soft,” a few people tell me at Dogtober fest. “Good,” I think, and he doesn’t stink like dog either, at least for a few more hours.
Ecos products are all natural and manufactured using Zero Waste guidelines in a family owned and operated plants powered by 100 per cent renewable energy. Plus, nothing is tested on animals, just used on them. And often. This Between Baths spray will travel with us from now on because Victor likes to roll (Check it out), and we love the solitude of the great outdoors… along with the occasional beer.
Looking forward to Barktober Fest 2019.
TRAVEL GUIDE: Solitude Nature Reserve is located at 45388 Dexter Line in Central Elgin near London, Ontario, Canada. Nearby is the small town of Sparta, home to country gifts stores, art galleries and a lavender farm. Port Bruce Provincial Park is seven kilometres away.