Paw-sitively fun at London dog festival – The London Free Press

There were a lot of happy tails wagging in west London on Saturday.

Thousands of dog lovers and dogs gathered at the Plunkett Estate for the dog festival, Pawlooza, The events support Animal Rescue Foundation (ARF) Ontario, which finds new forever homes for stray dogs and cats, and Leads Employment Services, which helps people living with disabilities find employment.

An estimated 20,000 people and over 4,000 canines were in attendance. Despite a small parking hiccup due to the heavy rain the night before, the event ran smoothly, said Laurie Ristmae, a Pawlooza director and founder of ARF Ontario.

“I couldn’t be any happier with how today went,” Ristmae said. “I’m seeing thousands of happy people and hundreds of happy dogs.”

The festival hit a major milestone this year, celebrating ten years of Pawlooza. Ristmae said the festival expanded their stage entertainment for this year’s festival by adding Canadian musicians and showcasing events, like animal communication and how to exercise with your dog, on stage.

“We’re trying to make it about entertainment and education at Pawlooza,” she said.

Some of the highly popular events areas include Pawlooza’s Next Top Model competition, off-leash fun zones, a petite dog zone for small dogs and a lure course where dogs chase an automated toy around in a circle.

One of the most watched events was the dog dock diving. One by one, the canine contestants walked onto the red-carpeted dock for their chance to jump as far as possible into a pond.

Some dogs soared into the air, landing scores as high as 21 feet. Others froze at the end of the dock and happily watched the toy splash into the pond. A few ran even ran off the dock and so they could walk into the water instead.

The crowd gathered to watch the event laughed and cheered along with each contestant.

Tucker the dog just made a 17ft jump at the Dock Diving event at Pawlooza! Wow! #LdnOnt — Shannon Coulter (@ShannonatLFP) August 18, 2018

Ristmae’s favourite event is the rescue community. She said it is the largest gathering of adoption groups in the country for a one-day event.

“This is what it’s all about, finding homeless animals new forever homes and then seeing them next year at Pawlooza with their families,” she said.

Ristmae said this is the tenth year that the Plunkett couple donated their estate grounds for the event. She said they cannot say thank you enough to the generous couple.

“It’s a gorgeous day on a gorgeous property,” she said.

For more information about the festival, visit