Everyone loves a charming wiener dog … except my dog, apparently.
August 10, 2019 was the date of Wiener-paw-looz-a in Hamilton, Ontario, the annual fundraiser for the Ontario chapter of the Canadian Dachshund Rescue, a volunteer-run charity dedicated to rescuing homeless and surrendered Dachshund and Dachshund-crosses. Animals are pulled from shelters, or saved from puppy mills, and fostered until forever homes area found.
It’s a popular breed. The field was dominated by little wieners – and jokes equally numerous. First contest of the day was ‘longest wiener.’ Cute contests continued because what’s a dog festival without a wiener race? And you certainly can’t have a Wiener-paw-looz-a without several, including one exclusively for puppies. Molly in a wheel cart dominated her ‘special needs’ category as the only participant but flew down the field on two legs and two wheels.
Dachshunds weren’t the only breed walking around Confederation Park and taking a turn along Lake Ontario’s stony beach (my dog’s favourite part of the day), but they definitely dominated.
So … I thought with fewer big boys there, my dog would be less reactive and more comfortable among his own size – as he was in the small pup leash-free zone at Pawlooza (see here).
I was wrong. Very wrong. My aging pooch was more reactive than ever. Since his ACL injury last fall, and the addition of a brace he wears to stabilize his knee and keep his walking even, he’s reverted back to the snappy guy I first rescued. CBDs are helping with a lot of age-related symptoms but apparently aren’t keeping him mellow enough.
My dog was difficult, except while running on the beach. That was (almost) his Zen. Lesson learned: I’m ALWAYS taking the stroller when I take him. (check out ours here – affiliate link). It gives him both personal space and a break from walking – and me a break from picking him up.
As a pet-festival, Wiener-Paw-looz-a had a lot of the dogtrotting.net recommended components.
Here’s what’s needed to make an outdoor pet-festival a success, in our experience:
- Plenty of parking Confederation Park has a clearly marked lot – if not, you need adult volunteers in the field directing cars to safe spots.
- Plenty of Space – organize vendors in circles rather than rows so dogs aren’t on top of each other. (This usually works for my canine).
- Plenty of water bowls – Summer means heat so dogs will need water. Bowls that are frequently cleaned are even better and/or provide a public outdoor faucet so people can do it themselves.
- Plenty of activities including leash-free runs – See Spot Run provided a lure course (yes, some Dachshunds run and jump) at Wiener-Paw-looz-a. Races and costume contests kept people entertained. But missing was a leash-free run. Being able to burn some energy before leash walking (or stroller walking) helps many pups. We created our own version along the lake shore.
- Plenty of Prizes – Raffles, Silent Auctions and 50/50 options are good fundraisers for the hosts. I understand the benefits of going home with your raffle prize (rather than driving back to pick it up later). However, keeping the raffle draw until the end of the day is too long, especially for those with elderly dogs who should leave after an hour. If you have a table of 30 prizes, maybe divide the table into mid-day and end-of-day draws – or hourly draws for a handful of prizes.
- Plenty of Garbage Cans – Real bathrooms for people (rather than porta-potties) and many garbage cans scattered throughout the park are high on my must-have at dog festivals list. Wiener-Paw-looz-a had the first but needed a few more cans – after all, ‘pick-up-the-poo’ is mandatory everywhere and you don’t want those tied plastic bags littering the site.
If you have any advice for either dealing with a reactive dog or creating the ideal pet festival experience, let us know below. We haven’t given up entirely, especially considering several weekends left this summer are double pawing it.