BEIRUT: It was the day of the dog.
Canines of every breed took to the field Saturday at the new Biel, with owners in tow, who were there to let the dogs proudly strut their stuff.
And strut they did.
Dogs are by nature social creatures, who by preference like to form packs; and there is nothing more a dog likes to do than meet fellow canines, sniff them a bit, and make friends.
It was also this social nature that brought them visiting humans in their caves many millennia ago, where they quickly became not only part of the tribal hunting pack, but also acted proudly as a cave guardian and even a sometimes child-minder, historical experts have said.
Dogs like to do it all.
Roula Mezher, managing director at Mindwhisk Events, and the organizer of last weekend’s Woof-Fest, noted for Annahar how Lebanon’s dogs needed more space to play and exercise and places to hang out with their fellow dogs.
“Dogs are very social and need opportunities to get out and socialize with other canines,” she said, adding that her own dogs where having tip-top time at the Woof-Fest.
As she lounged on multi-colored pillows with animals jumping nearby, the air surrounding Mezher was filled with the effusive barks and “woofs” of hello in greeting to new and old friends, as part of the day’s social mixer that included an estimated number of 500-plus dogs.
“The event is an excellent experience for both our dogs and us,” said one of several teenagers who accompanied their two dogs Cookie and Jaks to the event.
Another dog owner said the great thing about the animals was the deep affection for anyone it considered family.
“You can leave the house for five minutes or a year and a dog is equally effusive to see your return …even just a few minutes and a dog is as happy to see you as if it’s been a century,” said the owner of Huskie.
At the outfit contest, a kind of amiable mayhem ensued, as dogs’ sporting tuxedos, tutus, pirate costumes, supermen and even one Zorro paraded around backstage waiting for their moment of fame.
“The fashion show was an amazing idea that allowed us to see dog-clothing styles and accessories,” said Cynthia, a fashion enthusiast, and dog owner.
Among the many offerings at the Fest were the tempting swimming pools for the canines on the hot weekend; grooming, massage and spa treatment; and healthy Pupcakes for tired dogs to gain back their lost energy.
While puppies enjoyed the park with all its slides and games, bigger dogs found their relaxation at a massage station.
“Like humans, dogs also need and enjoy being massaged,” said one of the two experts. “We have been offering this type of animal treatment for a while in K9 Village (a dog training school), and we decided to bring it here to make it indeed a dogs’ day.”
The event also presented new entrepreneurship projects related to animals. The Pupcake Factory, a six-month-old project, was present at the event with its eye-catching sweets of all kinds from cookies to cakes that are suitable for dogs.
“People always eat sweets in front of dogs while they watch passionately,” said the salesperson of The Pupcake Factory. “Our sweets are thus created in a way that suits our sweet-tooth cravings; yet, at the same time suit our pet!”
Karim Bacha was also there to introduce his Sidelick dog care service, a kind of crowd-sourced, community-formed, combination Airbnb for dogs that allows travelling owners to place their dog in a welcoming home instead of a kennel or retain the services of a part-time pet sitter or dog walker. All sitters and caretakers come with “star” ratings by previous customers.
What might seem a first an eccentric concept, has the air of start-up genius from the perspective of dog and other pet owners who are constantly looking for animal caregivers, often based on a quick need before a business or holiday trip.
As CEO of a company that is less than a month old, Bacha reported to Annahar that bookings have been steady.
“We came up with the name as a combination of sidekick and lick, both words which describe dogs,” Bacha said. “While we do sell a service, it’s more a community style structure, much like Airbnb.”
Sidelick allowed dog companions to take a break at the event. Owners had the opportunity to drop their dog for pet sitting and a free manicure.
Mezher told Annahar: “We, at Mindwhisk, aim at spreading happiness in all our events, and after conducting a survey about the things that give people happiness, we concluded that pets are one of the top reasons for joy; this was what gave birth to Woof-Fest.”
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