There are music festivals, sports festivals and just about everything else for people festivals in Squamish- but until last year there was never a festival for the one beloved member of the family - the dog.
That's all changed as dogs, doggies, puppies and pooches now have an event to call their own. Year two of the Squamish Dog Festival, dubbed, It's a Dog's Life, is set to take place on Sunday (Aug. 29) at the Sunwolf Outdoor Centre. An estimated 200-plus dogs and their owners and families with gather at Sunwolf for an all-out dog extravaganza. From 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., dog lovers from across B.C. will bring their four-legged friends for this one-of-a-kind event.
Unlike fancy dog shows with snobby owners and their über-groomed top dogs, there'll be no primping and preening at this doggie event. It's strictly a fun and social outing where dogs will be able to make new friends and have fun checking out the abundance of specialty dog items, games, and even get a free dog massage.
"This is purely a fun, family event that celebrates dogs in our lives," said festival organizer Kris Hopping. "There seems to be a special day for everyone but there's no dog day. They're part of the family so there should be a special day for them."
Organizers experienced a howling success in the festival's first year, with dogs of all shapes and sizes attending the festivities. This year, more than 30 vendors will be offering dog-themed products and services at the Doggy Market. Participants will see a variety of different demonstrations from a special group of dogs, including a seeing-eye dog from the B.C. Guide Dog Association, tracking dogs, and three avalanche rescue dogs from the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Dog Association (CARDA).
"A trainer will be taking people from the audience, putting a blindfold on them and letting the seeing-eye dog lead them through an obstacle course," said Hopping.
A flyball troupe will be coming from Cloverdale, and this is where the kids will get involved in the fun, seeing if they can run faster than a flyball dog. To keep the fun rolling, there are prizes for best dog costume, as well as the hilarious 11-legged race, a bobbing for balls, best trick and naughtiest dog competition and a frisbee toss for the acrobatic frisbee dogs - with prizes galore for all in attendance.
"There are so many prizes," said Hopping. "The business community has been so incredibly supportive."
The event is free of charge, and organizers are hoping to raise funds for a special emergency fund through the sale of raffle tickets. Called the "My Best Friend" fund, it will be started to help local, low-income families with veterinarian expenses should their dog or pet ever become involved in an accident.
There will also be dogs available for adoption.
"You don't have to have a dog to come out to the festival," Hopping said. "If you don't have a dog and want one, there will be plenty of dogs to choose from for adoption."
Because year one was such a success, organizers are hoping to celebrate with a mass howl by trying to get the 200 or 300 dogs all howling at the same time.
"Last year was more successful than we could've ever imagined it to be," said Hopping.