Pet-a-Palooza, the West Coast's largest pet party, hits Calgary this weekend

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A dog cools off at Pet-a-Palooza in Calgary in 2018.  (Rachel Maclean/CBC - image credit)
A dog cools off at Pet-a-Palooza in Calgary in 2018. (Rachel Maclean/CBC - image credit)

Calgary dog lovers will get a special treat this weekend as the largest pet party on the West Coast hits the Eau Claire Market.

Pet-a-Palooza is an annual outdoor pet festival that tours across cities in Western Canada and Scottsdale, Ariz. This weekend will make Calgary the festival's first Canadian stop of the year.

Jordan Illingworth, organizer of Pet-a-Palooza, said the festival is a family-friendly event that allows local pet owners to meet up.

"It brings together the community, local businesses [and] service providers," Illingworth said.

"Everybody has a smile on their face when they're petting thousands and thousands of dogs."

She said the festival usually sees about 5,000 to 8,000 dogs attend each day — and if you're wondering, yes, there will be professional scoopers present to clean up all the poop, according to Illingworth.

The festival will feature events like Running of the Bulls — races for French and English bulldogs —  yoga with adoptable puppies and a pool party open to all dogs. Illingworth said her team built a custom 30-metre pool for dogs to cool down in.

Illingworth said there will also be a puppicino bar, which features a Greek yogurt treat topped with a dog's choice of sprinkles, a.k.a. freeze-dried beef, liver or chicken.

The festival is a fundraiser for the Just Love Animal Society, Illingworth said. The group raises awareness around ethical care of pets and holds events like low-income food drives.

Introducing Jackie Chan, the French bulldog

Joyce Kao is the owner of Sleep Rover Doggie Hotel & Daycare, one of sponsors of Pet-a-Palooza.

Submitted by Joyce Kao
Submitted by Joyce Kao

Kao's three-year-old French bulldog, Jackie Chan, is also competing in one of this weekend's races. Kao said his name comes from the song Jackie Chan by Canadian rapper Preme.

"He is what they call, 'always a bridesmaid, never the bride' at all the races he has participated in, two Calgary ones and one in Vancouver, and still has not won," Kao said.

Kao said training a French bulldog for races involves treats and practice.

"You can use their favourite toy and have two people on each end of a room and just keep recalling them," Kao said.

"And make sure you stretch before the race."

Illingworth said she encourages pet owners to bring their dogs to Pet-a-Palooza only if they'll enjoy it.

"We are really strong advocates for only bringing dogs that are good with other dogs or good in crowds, good in the heat as well," she said.

Pet-a-Palooza is free to attend and will be at Calgary's Eau Claire Market on Saturday and Sunday.

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With files from the Calgary Eyeopener