A BARKING success was the verdict of thousands of dog owners who descended on the UK’s first ever Dogstival held in Lymington over the weekend.
Dogs of every kind – from toy poodles to Great Danes and pedigrees to mongrels – padded along to the event at Pylewell Park.
One visitor, Kate Hurcombe, said: “Dogstival was a huge success! Such a fun weekend spent with lots of amazing dogs in a lovely setting. Well done, Team Dogstival!”
Diane Dahl said: “Fantastic day and a brilliantly put together show with so much to see and do for the whole family.”
Some people said they were disappointed that TV wildlife expert Chris Packham, who has a home near Marchwood, had to pull out of the show.
The Springwatch presenter became the victim of a hate campaign after helping to tighten up controls on shooting birds regarded as pests. The organisers, Lymington couple Richard and Domine Nowell, feared he would be targeted by protestors.
Oliver Harvey and his wife Amy had travelled from London for Dogstival and felt Mr Packham’s absence had affected the atmosphere of the event.
Mr Harvey, who brought pet Ziggy, said: “We thought it was going to be more like a Glastonbury for dogs, but it’s a bit flat really. I was looking forward to seeing Chris Packham as I am a huge fan.”
The festival included shows by the Rockwood Display Team who performed to music as part of their routine, the High Flyball team, and an amazing appearance by the Leonbergers – a giant breed who showed they were just as agile as tiny dogs
A specially-built mini house was used by obedience experts to show owners how they can tackle common problems like dogs going on the sofa, separation anxiety and jumping up at visitors.
There were also obedience trials for visiting dogs who got to enjoy swimming lessons in a hydro-pool and take part in agility tests.
Talks were given on everything doggy by local and national experts including ex-policeman Colin Butcher who runs a pet detective agency.
He gives hope to the thousands of dog lovers whose pets go missing, helping to track them down and rescue them. Mr Butcher runs his agency with the help of Molly, a cocker spaniel.
A favourite with the canines was the huge variety of free samples of dog food on offer from all over the country which ranged from top chef produced cuisine to home baked cupcakes.
There was also beer for dogs, which proved popular, and when it all got too much there was a chill-out zone where they could be pampered and have a nap.
Hampshire Fire and Rescue dogs showed off their skills with an excellent display in the main arena.
There were plenty of offerings for two-legged visitors to enjoy as well, including an acoustic sound stage, dozens of food and drink stalls and a vintage fairground.