A WEEKEND celebration of dogs that is making its debut in the New Forest next month has launched awards to honour the area’s canine heroes.
Dogstival will hosted by TV naturalist Chris Packham at Pylewell Park near Lymington on 18th-19th May. With four weeks to go, it is opening a public vote to decide the winners of five special prizes.
The categories are Pluckiest Rescue Dog, Life-Changing Dog, Dogs Got Talent, and the overall Dogstival Dog of the Year chosen by Mr Packham and Go Get It pet insurance
A fifth New Forest Dog Friendly Business award will be given to the organisation that goes the extra mile for man’s best friend.
Event director Richard Nowell, from Lymington, said: “Dogstival is about celebrating the joy and companionship dogs bring to our lives.
“But dogs also provide us with a better mental and physical wellbeing, plus there is an army of working dogs out there trained to do incredible things that change people’s lives for the better.
“We want to give something back these brilliant canines and honouring them, their owners and businesses at Dogstival is the perfect place to do it.”
He added: “But the awards also aim to highlight the growing opportunity businesses have, specifically in the tourism industry, by tapping into the ‘hound pound’.”
He pointed to research showing 39% of New Forest households have at least one dog, and in the UK owners spend about £4.6bn a year looking after their pets.
At the event will be some of the UK’s leading dog display teams, including the recent Ace Flyball Team winners from Crufts, and free have-a-go activities. There will be more than 180 stands and activities for all the family.
Representatives will also be there from the New Forest National Park Authority, Bird Aware Solent, and the Hampshire Countryside Alliance to help owners understand more about the area’s unique environment and what responsible ownership means.
To enter and vote in the Dogstival Awards, go to the event’s Facebook page @dogstival and upload a picture or video and up to 100 words.
The awards will be presented by Mr Packham, who lives in Colbury near Marchwood, on the last day of the festival, with the winners invited as VIP guests.
Dogstival will run 10am-6pm on the weekend of 18th-19th May at Pylewell Park. Entrance is £13.50 for adults, £7.50 children aged 6-16, and under-6s go free.
Tickets are on sale now at www.dogstival.co.uk.