Of course, we made a beeline (ok, ok, I made a beeline) for the various dog breed club exhibitions. So many beautiful animals - from the very tiny (a personal favourite, the Griffon Bruxellois, the Ewok dog!) to the very large (the Mastiff)!
Just a few of the lovely dogs we met.
It was also very exciting to see an exhibition by the Australian Flyball Association. This was a sport I'd never heard of before, but it was wonderful to see the enthusiasm of the dogs. We saw a great demo by the Frankston and Berwick teams. The teams were made up of dogs of all shapes and sizes, and the dogs completed a relay through the course. The course was made up of four hurdles and a panel that released a ball when the dog hit it, before it turned around and ran back over the hurdles to the start/finish gates.
In the red team, there was this big fellow, who took exactly four leaps to cover the four hurdles, as well as an Australian Shepherd, a Jack Russell terrier and tiny little guy who might have been a Chinese Crested Dog. The Chinese Crested Dog had a special small ball to fetch back, and he flew along, bouncing over each hurdle with a wonderful elegance. ("Bouncing" doesn't sound very elegant, but the effortless way he cleared something nearly taller than him was!)
Of course, there were moments where dogs dropped balls, often letting them roll the rest of the way to the back fence of the arena, or missed them coming off the Box Pedal in their rush to spin around. Very funny. The most hilarious moment was when the little Jack Russell got so excited that he went with the big red dog for a whole run, instead of waiting for his turn. So cute!!!
There were heaps of Exhibitors from different animal groups - most of the breeds I've mentioned were represented by different clubs, highlighting the different activities available - lots of dog sports and competitions, including showing of course. There were also stands for dog trainers, and lots of different rescue groups, like the RSPCA and the Siberian Husky Rescue Group. We stopped in to say hi and chat about the walks they run through their Melbourne Malamute and Husky Owners Group. Along with our friends at the SHCV Rescue and the NVSDR, I love watching the wonderful efforts of the organisers, foster carers and new families to rehabilitate and rehome arctic breeds. I am in humble awe of these people.
Of course, as well as dog things. there were also lots of other pets on display.
A lot of the Exhibitors were about commercial products - pet food, cat runs, toys, grooming tools. There were a couple of places with pet photography - we spotted a couple of friends in some of the photos around the place!!!
The most impressive exhibitor was a group called Friendly Dog Collars. They produce a series of collars, harnesses and leashes with traffic cone colours and clearly readable text to inform people about the dogs wearing them. One of the dogs was modelling the harness labelled BLIND DOG, and there were similar ones labelled DEAF DOG. Having lived with an elderly dog who was blind and deaf previously, I could immediately see how useful it would be to have something on the dog that would help people explain its behaviour, like ignoring you when you call it, or wandering up to people to check and see if they are "its" people.
Unlike the rarely seen, legally required "Dangerous Dogs" collars and leashes that I mentioned in my post about muzzling Bolo for walks, these voluntary leashes are easy to understand and I hope will become de riguer in dog walking areas around the country soon.
I am definitely thinking about getting a green FRIENDLY leash for Czar, an orange NO DOGS leash for Bolo, and a pack of yellow ADOPT ME leashes for some of my rescue group friends. Should I also get specialist leashes for Ishka and Frankie?
Overall, I enjoyed the Expo. There were plenty of food vendors, places to sit, face painting and other child friendly services. It was well attended, but not too crowded. However, for adults without children, we found the exhibition small for the $16 entry fee. Hopefully, next year, it will be better advertised and better attended by people from a wide range of different groups - there are so many people in Melbourne who enjoy doing fascinating things with their pets, and this is a great forum for them to share their passions with the rest of the city.