Lorene Clayton

Fun fetched by thousands at Woofa-Roo Pet Festival

By Shelbey Hernandez

 

The “Olympic-style pet event,” as the founder so calls it, has celebrated its another year as a success.

Despite the rain on Saturday, thousands of pet owners and their furry friends were seen diving off docks, jumping over obstacles and enjoying the many pet-engaging activities offered at the one-of-a-kind pet event. The event was held at the Libro Credit Union in Amherstburg on Saturday and Sunday with around 12,000 in attendance.

A very well-trained Radar had a blast during the dock diving competition which was part of the fourth annual Woofa-Roo Pet Festival held at the Libro Centre in Amherstburg last weekend. (RTT Photo by Shelbey Hernandez)

A very well-trained Radar had a blast during the dock diving competition which was part of the fourth annual Woofa-Roo Pet Festival held at the Libro Centre in Amherstburg last weekend. (RTT Photo by Shelbey Hernandez)

The festival was created by Lorene Clayton who saw a void and wanted to fill it. With no pet festivals to be found in Windsor-Essex, she decided to create one herself. As a dog owner herself, she felt it necessary to have a place where people could celebrate being pet owners. She modeled her event after the Dog Bowl, a large pet festival in Frankenmuth, Mich.

Her first go at it attracted 7,000 people. Last year, that number jumped to more than 11,500 people. The event also supports local pet charities and rescues by donating large sums of money and being the place where adoption and rescue centres can gain greater exposure.

What Clayton notices about the event she started is how it brings people together.

“They have a common bond. The minute they come into this gate, they have a common bond with a perfect stranger and the dogs that are here and the people who are here, there are social barriers that are just gone because everyone knows that the person walking next to them shares that love for that animal,” said Clayton. “So it’s a way to celebrate pet ownership and people are eager to do this.”

During the fourth annual WoofaRoo Pet Fest, a German short-haired pointer is photographed competing in the flyball competition at the Libro Credit Union Centre in Amherstburg last Sunday.

During the fourth annual WoofaRoo Pet Fest, a German short-haired pointer is photographed competing in the flyball competition at the Libro Credit Union Centre in Amherstburg last Sunday. (RTT Photo by Shelbey Hernandez)

The event comes with many different vendor booths, K9 demonstrations, pet activities and Olympic-style games for pets and their owners to compete in.

One of them is dock diving, which pet owner Deloni Leslie had her dog Ari competing in. Leslie said she has come to the pet festival since the first year it started but didn’t start competing in dock diving until last year. Since then, she’s been hooked and has given the organizer nothing but praise.

Chasing bags around a large expanse was one pet activity that many pets really enjoyed. It was known as the lure coursing event which took place during the WoofaRoo Pet Fest held at the Libro Centre in Amherstburg. (RTT Photo by Shelbey Hernandez)

Chasing bags around a large expanse was one pet activity that many pets really enjoyed. It was known as the lure coursing event which took place during the WoofaRoo Pet Fest held at the Libro Centre in Amherstburg. (RTT Photo by Shelbey Hernandez)

“I’m a big supporter of Woofa-Roo. I think it’s been amazing since day one,” said Leslie. “There’s nothing really like it in our community and yet, there are so many people with dogs and obviously a ton of people here. Since year one, I think the organizer has done an amazing job. She keeps adding something to it every year and it’s just a really great, fun thing to do. Even if your dog doesn’t want to do any of these things, there’s a lot of things to do and see and shop.”