What Happens at a Pet Expo and Why You Want to Attend
by Lynn Stacy-Smith
One of my favorite parts of my job as a writer, dog blogger and educator of humans who live with dogs is to attend pet expos and multi-vendor adoption events. Because writing is such an isolated job and I have no co-workers or employees or a brick and mortar store, I love to get out in public and meet and talk to fellow dog owners, their dogs, and other pet professionals face to face. Sure, the stereotype of a writer is that they are introverts who like to be alone, typing away at their masterpiece in a dark room fueled by gallons of coffee, but I really like sunshine, the outdoors and people, at least the ones who are kind to animals.
Most pet expos and adoption events that are open to the public are meant to raise funds for one or more rescue organizations. The organizers charge for-profit vendors like myself a fee to participate and then donate the fees to one or more rescue groups or shelters. Sometimes the events are organized by the shelter or rescue group themselves in order to raise funds to be able to save more animals. Vendors also typically donate raffle items and baskets so that the event organizers can sell raffle tickets and raise additional funds.
These events are win-win-win-win: a win for the rescues and shelters that never have enough funds to save as many animals as they would like, a win for the businesses and pet professionals who get to meet new clients, catch up with existing ones, and sell products and services, a win for the pet owners who get to try out new services and products for their beloved dogs, and finally a win for the dogs who are in need of help from the rescue organizations and shelters. Plus they are fun and a good place to take your own dog out in public on a mini-adventure.
I have met some great pet business owners at events, including people who make and sell collars, toys, pet beds, organic treats, topical skin treatments, antlers, pet food, and other products. I have met fellow authors, dog trainers, canine massage therapists, poop scooping services and all sorts of other service providers whose businesses I may want to patronize now or in the future depending on what is going on with my dog and in my life.
I love to support other pet business owners from my very own community. The more support and revenue you can give to vendors and businesses at pet expos, the more likely they are to return the following year and pay the event fee to the rescue or shelter that is being helped by the proceeds that are raised. Plus you have access to some really great products that you might not have heard of. As much as we love petting all of the dogs and talking to people, pet professionals also need to earn a living in order to keep helping dogs and serving the needs of our clients.
Sometimes there are entertaining or educational demonstrations on topics like yoga for dogs and owners, dock diving, herding, agility, rally obedience and a variety of fun things to do or watch. I have also been to events with free microchips for dogs, low-cost spay/neuter clinics, fabulous raffles and giveaways, free samples of products, free nail trims, free canine massage, and a variety of other freebies.
If you are looking to adopt another dog, some events have a variety of rescue organizations who attend. You can meet actual dogs for adoption or take the rescue group’s information so you can watch for the right dog when you are ready. You can also support rescue organizations by purchasing products that they sell. For example a local Dachshund rescue group sells special root beer and orange soda as part of their fundraising efforts and we always make sure we purchase a six-pack to take home with us. I also always buy t-shirts and apparel when the Save-A-Vet group is attending an event as my whole family loves their mission and products.
Many pet expos and adoption events are pet friendly for you to bring your own dogs, and they are a fun way to get your dog out into the world and help socialize them or just let them have some fun by meeting plenty of people, being around other dogs, and doing something new for the day. If you have a puppy who has had enough of their puppy shots to go safely into the world, these events can be great for socializing your puppy, just make sure you watch him or her around older dogs and provide plenty of positive reinforcement at appropriate times.
Because I usually have a booth at most of our local events, or it is simply too hot outside, I don’t get to take my own dogs to as many events as I would like. Last summer there was a dock diving expo in town and the normally steamy summer temperatures were unseasonably cool. I jumped on the opportunity and took Tinkerbell with me, and loved seeing her in that environment. I was so proud of how good she was on the leash in a big crowd, so sweet and calm when checking out the various vendors, chilled out around the other dogs and people, and just generally a really good companion for the day. She was also exhausted within the hour from so much mental stimulation and I thought I might have to carry her back to the car.
You can find dog events on Facebook (search “dog events” and click on the Events link), EventBrite, Bring Fido, Dog Vacay, Dog Friendly and just a regular Google search. Also search Pet Finder’s events page for a list of rescue groups who will be set up at local businesses, something that is different from a pet expo but still a great way to look for your next dog. If you are a runner, check out Active.com for their pet friendly page. There are also some larger nationwide expos like those organized by Amazing Pet Expos.
I always share events that I am sponsoring or attending on my Facebook page, so if you are not following me already, I invite you to do so now: https://www.facebook.com/lovelaughwoof. Make sure you say hello if you stop by my table, and I hope you have a fun summer of pet expos and adoption events.