Long-jumping Labradors, miniature ponies in party shoes and the world’s fastest-flying eagle are among the stars of America’s Family Pet Expo at the fairgrounds in Puyallup this weekend.
More than 1,000 dogs, cats, birds and reptiles, along with every imaginable pet-related gizmo, doodad and bauble, are on display at the two-day pet expo, which bills itself as the Northwest’s largest pet and pet product event.
“It’s everything pet,” said Barry Bartlett, a media spokesman for the show. “It’s a celebration of all varieties of animals – and responsible pet care.”
Several thousand humans – many of whom brought pets of their own – made their way to the expo Saturday to watch demonstrations, attend lectures and sort through pet products that included doggie manicure kits, Christmas dresses for cats, electronic pet-tracking systems and self-cleaning litter boxes.
Many of the products play to the urge to pamper pets and make them part of the family.
“The dogs are more babies than dogs these days, so we’re dressing them,” said Nancy Thomas, owner of the Mount Vernon company Lickety Clips, which offers doggy bling such as frilly collars, pet nail polish and glue-on rhinestones.
“What happens is, your kids grow up and leave and now you have this cute little doggy,” Thomas said. “It seems to be the natural thing to do.”
Cheryl Keninger, owner of Downunder Dog Designs who introduced herself as “one of the top designers in canine couture,” is showing a dozens of handmade dog dresses for $85 each. Her most expensive creation, she said, was a $500 dress studded with Swarovski crystals she created for a pet owner in Mississippi.
All-natural health foods for pets are big at the expo, with an emphasis on organic, grain-free products, some of which are edible for humans.
Products included “Natural Salmon and Potato recipe with pumpkin and organic quinoa seed,” by Pinnacle Holistic Pet Nutrition, and frozen dog ice cream snacks by a Washington-based company called Malamoo.
Other products included:
• A “slobber-removing” steam cleaner for walls, carpets and floors.
• Dog sunglasses and goggles.
• Life jackets for dogs.
• Pet biscuits that “clean teeth and freshen breath.”
• Claw-resistant window and door screens.
The Pet Expo had a more serious side, too.
The fairground’s entire Pavilion was given over to homeless dogs, cats and bunnies from local shelters and rescue groups, all looking for families. Inside, a squad of volunteer pet groomers gave beauty makeovers to animals, with free shampoos and blow-dries, hairstyling and pedicures.
After their makeovers, the pets were dressed and paraded on a stage for potential human partners.
It seemed to be working.
No total counts of adopted pets were available from sponsors at day’s end Saturday, but Keninger, who helped organize the fashion show, said that “They’re flying out the door. Last year we had 500 pets adopted, and I think we’re going to do better than that this year.”
IF YOU GO
The Pet Expo continues from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. Admission is $12 for adults; $10 for seniors; $6 for ages 6-12; and free for ages 5 and younger.