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A trip to Pet expo 2014

We are just back from Pet Expo 2014 event last weekend, this was held from 28 February 2014 till 2 March 2014, the event lasted a total of 3 days.

Note: Below's post reflects our personal experience and opinion throughout the whole event, as usual, we do not hide any facts nor opinions thus it may not suit to everyone's taste, please refrain from reading if you are unable to accept sensitive topics.

We went on Saturday, took a cab in and reached at about 11am, being early we managed to get into the event right away without having to queue. The set up looked similar to other dog events that we had attended, it was pretty huge, however we noticed that the speakers corner was pushed right to the end of the hall, which wasn't noticeable until we walked further in.

Amber getting ready to go out!

Amber was pretty excited as usual, trying to sniff all the dogs that she met, we didn't let her do as she want and just continued walking around the booths, to make sure that she was in a better state before letting her socialize physically with other dogs, we even brought her out to practice her walks before going back into the event. There were lots of booths set up compared to other dog events that we had attended, this was a good thing in our opinion. However, we did not understand why a car booth was taking part in the event, it was pretty awkward at first sight, there were also a few other corporate booths like credit cards and insurance, which kind of make the place looked less 'fun'.

The speaker's corner was not active when we reached, so we walked over to the agility area to watch what was going on. An instructor whom we saw frequently at dog events was holding lessons there, we assume that was the short course PetExpo was promoting on their website. We stayed for a while and watched how the instructor teach, hoping to pick up some teaching techniques. There were a number of people who signed up though it didn't seemed full, they were asked to stay with their dog while the trainer explain about agility trials. He then started to demonstrate what his dog could do, though it was really impressive, the commands he shouted were so fast and unclear that we couldn't pick up what he was saying (unless we replay the videos) - at times we heard "left" but his dog was turning right, other times he was silent. The students were then allowed to try the obstacles, whereby they could walk their dogs over the Poles and Jump obstacle with the bars removed, after a couple of practice he asked his students to keep the Jump obstacles themselves, I do not know if this is a common thing but asking students to do work not related to the training left a bad impression on us, with the repeated "come" and "faster" towards the students it looked like he was in a rush to end the program. From our point of view, we felt that being the spectators could actually learn just as much by watching from afar than to pay for the program, there were not much hands on and physical guidance at all. There was a lady, who seemed to be the main instructor of another school was attending the course, I do not know what was going on but she was there as a student, she seemed to also have gotten a new dog with her. Not following instructions, she put her dog off leash when the instructor said to keep their dogs on leash, and rushing her dog over the obstacles without following the lessons, this was pretty hard to watch for us so we left thereafter.

It was just then we met Cupcake and her owners, Cupcake was looking really good, kinda plump compared to before though, she was really excited and wanted to play with Amber, she still remembered us! Cupcake seems to have almost gotten over her fear aggression and we were really happy for her, we shopped together for a bit before parting. We then started to browse through the individual booths to see if there was anything interesting, the B2K booth was having discounts for their products, we got some MeToYou products at $9.90 per piece, this was a really good deal! However the Cesar Milan's belt were all sold out, we saw online posts that people got it at $9.90 too, usual price was about $60.

Cupcake & Amber

After that we came across a free photo booth, the staff asked if we wanted to get a free picture for Amber and we agreed, she then started to promote Pet Insurance plan while we were waiting, we listened for a bit and proceeded to help Amber take her photograph. The photographer was very rude when I wanted to give Amber treats, to ask her to wait and get ready for the photograph, he kept asking me to "move one side" and Amber was fidgeting, he briefly took the picture and rushed us to leave the area. (anyways till today we still have not received our photos through email as promised.)

We then proceeded over to another booth and got some calming spray, though we have not heard of the brand before, they said that the money was to be used for helping stray dogs, since it was made with natural ingredient we just got one without hesitation! At this point of time Amber have also became more obedient and attentive so we allowed her to do whatever she wanted, she started to sniff around and followed other dogs, Amber is still interested in dogs but we can feel that the need has lessened compared to last year, she might be used to socializing with boarding dogs. Towards people Amber still gets excited, however she will only rush forward if people invite her, similar to the last event we had attended (Discover Dogs 2013), of course her tail will still wag vigorously. We also happened to meet people from Facebook's toy poodle group, they asked if our dog was Amber and seemed happy to see her, we then allowed Amber to interact with their dogs before continuing shopping.

Making friends

After comparing prices online, we bought some treats for Amber, the Addiction's new beef treat was on discount! In our opinion, Addiction's treat is one of the better ones out there, great quality ingredients and different exotic varieties. The booth was also promoting a new brand of water fountain, after being curious and the staff demonstrating, we decided to skip on the purchase and paid for the treats instead - the water fountain was made of fragile materials, everything inside didn't look good either so we didn't purchase it. We then met Muffin and his owner shortly, Muffin had a new funky haircut, reminded us of Shinee! We heard that he was doing really well though he still had the choke chain on (as advised by his trainer), Muffin was not an aggressive dog, he's a poodle with a wonderful personality when he last stayed with us, we truly hope that one day he can be free of it and can use normal collars instead, otherwise he seemed healthy with his usual positive attitude. We also got to meet Junior and his family too, they looked really happy, Junior was barking because of excitement and unable to control himself, however after some corrections he managed to settle down within a couple of minutes, I just had the feeling that he is getting more demanding even though his actions showed otherwise, might need to monitor him further when he comes over.

The place was getting really crowded as evening approaches, we saw a lot of different breeds and sizes, Amber absolutely love big dogs and would try and sniff every one of them, this was also the time we removed her shirt as she seemed to feel uncomfortable, she peed right away after her clothes were removed, guess Amber really hates to wear clothes because of her tail issue, she reacted much better with clothes that doesn't touch her butt. We were walking most of the time to drain Amber's energy and let her socialize more, halfway through the walk one of her pony tails came off, so we went to another booth to get some ribbons for her, the ribbons were really cute though the rubber band did not seem durable, however at $1.90 per pair we thought it was pretty reasonable!

After 2 hours of shopping and lunch we went back to the agility area to see if there were other shows, however it was still taken up by the same instructor, this time round it was a course about frisbee training. As usual the instructor was busy showing off what his dog could do instead of teaching other owners on introducing frisbee, demonstrating high level frisbee tricks didn't seemed helpful to owners who wanted to get their dog to like the frisbee, the ones that were more contented were spectators around us who treated it like a entertainment show instead of a lesson. At some point he even demonstrated some frisbee throwing skills, which one of them hit his student's face, once again, it was a disappointment from our point of view, we are no frisbee experts but introducing a dog to like the object is not about throwing it far off and bouncing it on the ground to make it fly further, it's about getting your dog to love the object using treats and praises, throwing the frisbee before even introducing is like asking the dog to fetch something it didn't understand.

We met Cappi's owner thereafter, she was with the golden retriever club, the group was really huge, you'd have to see photos from Pet Expo to truly know how awesome that was. It was fun to interact with her golden retriever named Cash, Cash is a really young but huge fella, he is still in his playful stage, totally cheerful and busy licking our hands! After saying hi we went over to another booth, which specialize in pet photography, they were offering 1 free soft copy of our pet's photo and we signed up for it, though we were told to wait for the photographer as he wasn't around at that time.

Amber's favorite breed - Retrievers!

Curiosity caught our mind as we were waiting for the photographer, a group of animals consisting of birds, dogs, cats were gathered at another booth beside, we then came to know that it belonged to an animal communicator, she was the one that my friend said was good and accurate. We had never been directly in contact with animal communicators and I thought I should go over and talk to her, the conversation lasted about 15 minutes and she kindly explained to us about her service and cost, we'll create another post about our conversation in the near future, this should be interesting for Amber's friends who are curious about what she had to say about her!

Back to the photography, the lady explained to us about their package, it's really expensive at about $300 for 8 pieces of soft copy photographs (I had to ask whether we will be receiving the soft copy to know that the $300 did not include print outs). However, we did considered about it and might've given it a try if Amber's free photograph looked great, sadly it didn't, we truly wanted to find a good pet photographer at reasonable prices but this wasn't what we were looking for.

During the event we also noticed that there was an enclosed room, and upon closer inspection we found that lessons about dog behaviors were held in that room! We then found out that people who wanted to attend the talks had to pay, this explains why we couldn't find any good shows at the speaker's corner, good trainers like Ricky were also not present, it looks like things are starting to change here, might be the organizer's decision, we couldn't tell much except for being disappointed.

After strolling around we got to meet Scooby, well what can we say, we were really proud of him and his owners, he was doing exceptionally well for his first time attending the event! His owners managed to spare some time to bring him out even when they were busy, Scooby looked happy and excited but he still listened to "sit" commands when asked to, we chatted for a while before parting.

It was only then I spotted someone with a familiar walking technique - a distinct style that we teach during training. I started to monitor the person even further, his face looked familiar but yet the dog wasn't who I thought it should've been, I couldn't confirm but I was sure that the walking technique came from us, only to then find out that he had actually trained with us in the past when I approached him. As a trainer for the past 1 year, I have never forgotten any owner nor their dog's distinct behavior, maybe the names or certain behaviors are forgotten, but the main issue of the dog always stays in me. As we always try to stay positive talking to dog owners, I asked if the dog was the one that trained with us, he said yes and I went along with it, I remembered very well that this dog was not the color it used to be, the size was also different. I touched the dog, call the dog using the wrong name but there were no response from them, we parted after awhile. The both of us started to discuss about this, we remembered the previous dog that had trained with us being aggressive and was even advised by the vet to be put down, we were really worried and bad images was going in our heads but there was nothing we could do, if you were wondering about the training sessions, it was cancelled by them after just one session because of their commitment issues. We might have think too much but this was constantly going on our mind, why would the owner lie about the dog's details if indeed nothing happened? We were definitely not angry, even if indeed the dog was put down, I would not get angry, probably just ask why. But the fact that we were lied causes us to remember this issue and I believe this question will stay in my mind forever. We'd never push owners to answer things that they do not wish to share, but we really hope that the dog is still well and alive!

Overall, we might've had written more negative than positive experiences, we were actually enjoying the whole event, it's just that negative ones happened to had more impact thus it was written down.

We are truly happy to have went to Pet Expo 2014, all the experiences there had contributed to help us improve and learn, really glad to have met so many dog owners too, so sorry if there were some names that we had not mentioned. We hope there will be more of Amber's friends attending events like this in future!



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