In the end, the biggest prize stayed in the family.
As the Vancouver Island Pet Expo wound down Sunday afternoon, Finn dashed ahead of several competitors to claim first prize during the 2018 Dashhund Dash.
This form of racing did not quite resemble the running of the bulls, but it had its own charms, as both rookies and seasoned veterans raced down a narrow track, some less certain of what the fuss was also about, others far more sure-footed, so to speak.
Finn fell into the latter category, winning his final heat with ease, a performance that earned him a congratulatory kiss from his owner Michelle Gaiger, as a crowd of several hundred spectators oohed and ahhed. With his victory, Finn now follows in the paws, small as they might be, of his brother Frank, who won the event last year.
The Dachshund Dash featured some fierce racing, with the odd entry snapping at the flanks of their nearest competitor as they scampered towards the finish line. But apart from a few false starts, the races all took place without incident.
If the Dachshund Dash reflected the fun element of the expo, its various exhibits emphasized its educational orientation.
“The biggest reason for coming is education,” said Virginia Ritchie, show producer of the Vancouver Island Pet Expo. “You are never going to see this pet expo be a petting zoo,” she said. “We don’t believe in that.”
The show instead featured a wide range of experts who could help pet owners answer a long list of questions about their animals. “Should I insure my dog, should I not? Could my dog be a guide dog, could it not? How do I have fun with my dog?” she said.
While many of the exhibits appeared to cater towards dog owners, lovers of all creatures great and small could find something to their liking.
For example, the show featured a reptile display. “They have been here for three to four years, and they are very well respected breeders,” said Ritchie. “I have a friend who has a son with allergies, and he can have that pet. Everybody deserves a heartbeat to take care of.”
The expo, not surprisingly, also doubled as a large dog park. “Ever since we started [allowing animals three years ago], it’s like a big pet party every weekend,” said Ritchie. “They can’t wait to come and talk to each other.”
This was evident in the long lineup that had formed outside the entrance doors well before 10 a.m. Sunday and on the floor show, where dogs and their owners readily mingled.
Brittni Jomha and Darinne Kraeker were among them. Their respective dogs, Halo, a Husky cross, and Mini, an Australian shepherd, quickly showed affinity for each other, bringing their owners together for a chat.
Ritchie knows this phenomenon of people bonding over their animals well.
“My sister-in-law has a little Pomeranian,” she said. “She met two new friends yesterday. They are now friends on Facebook. They joined a Pomeranian group. So it is about meeting people, and having fun with their dogs.”