Jared noticed these too, and he looked over at me and said, "Wow. These are your kind of people."
He was absolutely correct - dog people are definitely my people! And this expo was chock full of dog lovers and amazing animal advocates. There were dogs everywhere - in strollers, on leashes, in the arms of their parents - and nearly every breed of dog (the most popular seemed to be Greyhounds, Great Danes, Chihuahuas, and Labs) was represented. Barking, sleeping, wagging, panting...wearing skirts, tutus, costumes, and even hats!
The booths and people were all so friendly; it was refreshing to have so many wonderfully kind people all in one spot. Jared and I were lucky enough to catch a Marvelous Mutts show! Each canine athlete is a rescue, and these dogs are seriously talented. Leaping into the air, weaving through obstacles, and fetching Frisbees at insane heights. The best part? It's clear that these "mutts" love what they do. It was a great show!
Some of my favorite booths were those educating about puppy mills. Did you know Iowa is #2 in the country for puppy mills, only second to Missouri? My county alone is home to three confirmed mills, and the next county over has eight. Bailing Out Benji was one of these booths; this organization was founded by a young woman named Mindi, who I think is just amazing - she has dedicated her life to educating others about the horrors of puppy mills. She greeted me, and I responded with, "Are you Mindi? You're awesome!" Ugh. Embarrassing, but it just popped out. :)
Another favorite was Iowa Friends of Companion Animals, and the founder, the wonderful Mary LaHay, fielded my questions for a ridiculous amount of time - "Do you pull the dogs directly from mills? Have you ever attended an auction? How can I get more involved?" Yikes. I have a lot of curiosity about puppy mill rescue, I guess.
There were also several rescues that attended, bringing with them adoptable dogs and cats. Though it's usually elderly dogs that win me over, I couldn't resist heading to a rescue's Kissing Booth, where a handful of adorable puppies were waiting. Scooped from an overcrowded breeder, these little black munchkins, thought to be Shih-Tzu/Poodle mixes, were all up for adoption...until the end of the day, that is! That's right, they all found their forever homes!
I had some serious trouble leaving this girl behind!
You can't leave a pet expo without some swag...
Along with a silly magnet and some rose gold earrings from Origami Owl (Jared is saving them for me for Christmas!), we bought a super-comfy I <3 Mutts hoodie from AHeinz57, a handsome plaid raincoat for Riley, and a "Mill Dog Warrior" decal from Bailing Out Benji. At the AHeinz57 booth, we also won a cute Pluto squeaky toy - Riley loves it and recently woke us up at 5 AM by squeaking it over and over. :)
Overall, the day was a great success! I was so impressed with the dogs in attendance; they all seemed so well behaved and not at all bothered by the crowds and noise. We had so much fun socializing, meeting new people, and petting cute dogs, and we can't wait for our next expo...which, to be honest, will probably be BlogPaws in Nashville. So excited to see you all there! ;)
PS: You may be wondering why we didn't bring Riley along to the expo. Riley can be dog aggressive, and though he is usually okay on a leash, we thought it'd be better safe than sorry. Also, it was honestly in his best interest: He tends to pant and whine and just really seems to not enjoy himself when he's out in public. We think he was rarely socialized in his previous home - it would explain many of his behaviors and habits.