Did you know there are 35,000 dog lovers in Dubai? That’s how many guests are expected to descend on the Sevens stadium on February 4, when the city’s pet lovers will gather to celebrate their four-legged friends, meet new people, enter competitions, pick up pet-care tips and watch dog shows. Now in its 23rd year, the hugely fun Pedigree and Whiskas Dubai Pet Show will also support local community projects such as the Pedigree Adoption Drive.
Visitors can expect to see everything ‘from chihuahuas, golden retrievers and pugs to the oldest known breeds of domesticated Arabian dogs, the Salukis,’ explains Rahmah Alwazir from Pet Care, who is helping to organise the event. ‘There’ll be many rare breeds on show, as well as the opportunity to discover more than 600 dogs in different sizes and colours in one place.’
There are two parts to the event: the more serious side will feature obedience and agility competitions, including demonstrations from UAE police dogs, while the fun part will award prizes for dogs that look most like their owners, the best doggy fancy dress, and the happiest dog.
‘My favourite competition is the fancy-dress class – it’s open to all dogs, whether pedigree or crossbreed, young or old, and is a great chance for anyone and everyone to join in,’ explains judge Sandra Johnston,
a dog expert from the UK. ‘It highlights the relationship dogs have with their families. The whole family can join in, whether it’s showing the dog or making an outfit.’ Sandra, who owns 30 canines herself, believes events such as Dubai Pet Show help to raise awareness about dogs and their place in society.
Eleonora Stoyanova, from Bulgaria, is equally potty about pooches, and owns a grand total of 26 dogs. ‘If you’re a dog lover, Dubai Pet Show is a great way to see lots of different breeds and meet new friends,’ she says. ‘My dogs love it – they get really excited.’ She has been entering her dogs in the pet show’s competitions for years and last year bagged a few wins. ‘I usually spend a month preparing a dog,’ she explains. ‘This involves training and grooming them. Sometimes it can take up to four months to get it exactly right.’
Less serious entrants include Rob Atkinson, from the UK, who entered his cocker spaniel, Clifford, last year as a joke. Clifford came first in both the Best Pedigree Puppy and Best Puppy in Show heats. ‘I entered as a bit of a laugh,’ he explains. ‘It was fun to prance around the ring, although I didn’t do a huge amount of preparation. We went to the groomers two weeks in advance for a wash, cut and blow-dry, but really it’s all down to good genetics.’
The Best In Show competition is all about looks rather than obedience – a little like a beauty pageant for dogs. So how does Rob keep Clifford looking so good? ‘I give him lots of exercise. I take him to the desert and run him up and down dunes for a nice trim physique, and I don’t give him titbits from the table. I might even get some highlights put in his hair this year,’ he says with a chuckle. ‘Essentially, the pet show is a great family day out. It’s rare in Dubai to see a lot of dogs together socialising, and this year the venue will be really good.’ Let’s hope they get busy with the pooper-scooper before the rugby players return.
Entry fees for pet competitions start at Dhs10. Spectators will also be asked to pay a nominal entrance fee, with proceeds going to charity. For info, see www.dubaipetshow.com.