Saturday, May 24, 2014

Woodbine Park goes to the dogs for Woofstock

TORONTO - It’s not often you get to see, literally, a walking hot dog.

But Schneider, an eight-year-old dachshund, was showing off his ketchup and mustard by wearing a hot dog costume at Woofstock Saturday, along with hundreds of other pooches.

“He knows 13 tricks, including dance, high-five, roll over,” said Schneider’s owner Shari Wing, 41. “This is our second Woofstock. He loves to hang out and be social.”

This is the 11th year the festival devoted to all things canine has come to Toronto, but organizers said with the event growing each year by the thousands, they had to move the venue from St. Lawrence Market to Woodbine Park.

The free event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Dozens of vendors in attendance have everything from doggy strollers to pet food to high-end hipster clothing for four-legged companions.

PiP My Pet, a Vancouver-based company that launched a lost pet locator app for Android and iPhone said the program uses face-recognition technology to help track down lost or stolen pets.

“We use an ‘amber alert’ system, so if you have your pet registered with us, both cats and dogs, if you lose them, you can go in, activate an alert,” said Philip Rooyakkers, the CEO of the company.

“Our customer service team will reach, gather more information and broadcast that out to a 10 to 15-mile radius to every vet, animal-control agency, pushed through to Facebook and Twitter and Craigslist, so many (pertinent) people see it.”

Since launching about 18 weeks ago, the company has seen a couple dozen amber alerts issued with a 40% success rate.

Over at a photo booth where owners can pose with their pooches, Simone Noel, 79, smiled at the camera beside her regal-looking Dachshund, Daisy, covered from head to tail with flowers.

“She won best dressed in 2012,” Noel said. “She won $800. This is my 11th year. I love to dress my dog and enter the contests. I chose the flowers because it’s May.”

Mayoral candidates Karen Stintz and Olivia Chow also took park in the dog day afternoon.

Stintz arrived just after 2:45 p.m. with her one-year-old Pug, Gus, and three-year-old standard poodle, Oscar.

“It’s nice to get the dogs out to the park,” Stintz said, adding it was her first time attending the event.

Mayoral contender Olivia Chow was also at Woofstock as one of her nine scheduled campaign stops Saturday. She said she had three dogs during her life -- two of them named Bella, the first of which was hit by a car.

“I’m basically here to play with dogs,” she laughed. “This is like dog heaven. It’s good for the economy because think about the money that changed hands here and people are having so much fun.”
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