The London Pet Show brings animals galore to ExCel Centre
The London Pet Show has been running for five years and returned this weekend to the Docklands-based ExCel Centre to display pets galore, both conventional and exotic, to London’s vibrant community of animal-fanciers.
Cats, ponies, donkeys, snakes, chinchillas, tortoises and other particularly unusual pets such as skunks were available for short sessions of handling to viewers willing to stand in long lines, attended by enthusiastic adults and children alike. At the forefront of the exhibition several birds of prey were displayed – including two owls, a vulture and an eagle – though certainly not accessible by anybody other than their handlers, with whom the birds seem to have a very unique bond. In the rabbit show-jumping ring, bunnies leaped effortlessly over hurdles alongside their handlers, though one liver-and-white specimen hilariously refused to take the carrot at the end of the stick, stopping mid-course to explore his surroundings instead. Another very friendly bunny seemed resolute that one obstacle was quite enough for him, and hopped off into the audience to be stroked.
Of course, the show did also incorporate typical trade fair-type stands: the ExCel centre does, after all, exist to display prototypes and the newest contraptions on the market. Among the most impressive of these was Dragon’s Den’s own Sally Pattie showcasing her groundbreaking invention, Doddle for Dogs, a contemporary update on the Extendo-leash. At first glance a fairly standard nylon collar, the product actually features an extendable tag that when pulled, releases a long leash which – somewhat like a tape measure – is retracted back into its base when let go. The lead even has a hand-loop to provide maximum control, so that dogs of any size can benefit. The product was well-placed, given that hundreds of dogs and their owners peppered the showroom. Although the event did explicitly ask attendees not to bring their own pets along, this rule did seem somewhat difficult to police with regard to the sheer number of them entering and leaving the hall.
At least 30 stands were strategically placed throughout the venue, showcasing pedigreed breeds ranging from the most ancient, such as the dreadlocked, smelly-but-adorable Bergamasco, to more recent designer breeds such as the Cavapoo and Labradoodle. The majority of the crowd stood bunched around specimens of more obscure breeds they likely had never seen in person. Leonbergers, St. Bernards, Bloodhounds, Sussex and Clumber spaniels, and Mexican Hairless Dogs were scattered about the room at their own booths, where their handlers were all too happy to discuss breed specifics, such as grooming, exercise and temperament. However, the latter hardly seemed to be a problem for any of these dogs, who were all unbelievably well socialised and calm – a male Glen of Imaal terrier rolled about the floor with a playful child in pure joy, while a powerful mastiff flopped placidly to be stroked. It goes without saying that the majority of these owners are based outside of London, where their pedigreed pack can bound and dash with reckless abandon.
Twitter celebrity Hetty the Golden Retriever/Labrador cross – the only service dog worldwide whose training includes both seizure alert and guide-dog training – overlooked the obedience ring, watching as her mistress’s eldest daughter competed with striking Springer-cross Merlin. Hetty wore a Go-Pro attached to her harness, now a requirement following an unfortunate incident in which the extremely good-natured crossbreed was attacked and badly wounded by another dog. Nevertheless, her owner was delighted to discuss her remarkable companion, and all the more pleased to actually invite people to stroke Hetty, whose doleful Retriever eyes brightened with the attention.
A wealth of information was available about pretty much every exotic permissible by UK law to keep as a pet, and from experienced owners no less. In particular, the event caters to dog-lovers, who must pop over next year to watch other handlers in action and benefit from the bargains on canine paraphernalia available for one day only! The London Pet Show is most certainly the ExCel Centre’s event of the year for animal aficionados, and a must-see for anybody considering bringing a new furry, feathered or scaly friend into their home.
For further information about the London Pet Show visit here.