2011 NW Companion Pet Fair

This weekend my family and I (including our four legged member) attended the NW Companion Pet Fair at the Portland Expo.  I had been looking forward to this event for several weeks and was pumped to go.

Unfortunately we didn’t get a chance to stay as long as I would have liked.  Upon entering the exhibit hall we didn’t get more than a few vendor tables in when a small dog walked up to Blizzard (who you will recall is only a four month old puppy), sniffed at him and promptly bit him on the nose.  While this didn’t leave any marks I think it put him on edge.

After about 20 minutes, we made it down one row of exhibits.  We came upon an amazing exotic animal exhibit when Blizzard completely freaked out.  He started whining, pulling on the lease and shaking.  I removed him from the exotic pet area thinking something there had spooked him but he still wasn’t calming.  My husband and I quickly switched (toddler for dog) and he picked up Blizzard and carried him for a bit; quite a feat since Blizzard is close to 40lbs.

After a few minutes Blizzard calmed down but was still unsure of the situation.  I didn’t want to reward the behavior by promptly leaving so I gave him lots of encouragement and my forethought to bring a pocket full of training treats helped with that.

While he was still a bit unsure and stayed glue to my side he did make it through while we looked at the rest of the exhibits.  He received a lot of attention and love and I think in the end the socialization of the entire experience did him some good.

While I enjoyed my time there were some things I didn’t and naturally some suggestions for next year’s fair!

 The Good:

–          The price was extremely affordable.  The fact that children under 12 got in for free was great and made it a good family event.  The 2 for 1 coupon was much appreciated!

–          I loved that we could bring our “companions” whatever those were.  I mostly saw dogs but a few birds and a ferret were fun to see.

–          Love, love, loved all the rescue organizations present.  Fantastic to see them out there and represented.

–          I was grateful for the variety of animals represented by exhibitors.  My 16 month old daughter got some fantastic exposure to animals she normally doesn’t get a chance to see.  The “hands on” for her was great and she didn’t balk at any of the animals.  The bearded dragon was probably one of her favorites.

–          Good variety of topics spaced out appropriately.

The Not-So-Good:

–          I didn’t realize parking would be an additional $8.  I didn’t so much mind paying but I had been to the NW Companion Pet Fair site numerous times and it never said anything about parking.

–          I thought the variety of vendors was slightly lacking.  I was really hoping to find some organic treats that featured a variety of fruits and vegetables.  I was also hoping for some unique dog items.

–          I thought the inflatable area was a bit much and unnecessary… great to have something for the kids but I think this can be achieved differently.

–          While I understand the need to fill vendor spaces, I found the Penguin Window and Roofing/Siding Vendor a waste of space that could be used much more appropriately.

–          It was extremely hard to hear the individuals giving talks in the stage area.


–          Make sure to solicit for a variety of vendors with unique wares and dog goodies.

–          Instead of filling vendor space with things like Penguin Windows (and such) why not donate the space out to local 4-H groups?  There are quite a number of companion animal 4-H clubs in Clark County alone and not only is it great exposure for the 4-H’ers to come discuss their hobby and club but my experience as a past 4-H leader has shown that the community loves the opportunity to see what their youth are up to as well.

–          Instead of Inflatables why not use the space to invite people to come in and share their breed?  You could have a “Meet the Breed” section and volunteers could come, sit, and share their love and passion to visitors.  This is great exposure for the breed and helps people understand what different breeds have to offer and how they could possibly fit within their current family structure.

–          Have a photographer on hand who can set up and take pictures on-site.  While you had a photographer booth set up (and her work is great) she was pricey and very niche.  Have a photographer come in who can take photos on the spot and provide them immediately.  Digital photography and digital photo printers are quick and easy and can provide instant gratification to visitors.  I would have paid to have my dog’s photo taken while there.

–          Offer more hands on activities for kids.  Bringing children into the world of companion animals is extremely fulfilling and helps them feel a part of their future.

–          Why not have more demonstrations?  Flyball, Agility, Dancing Dogs?  I’m sure you could get groups to volunteer their weekend to show off their skills!

 I look forward to next year’s fair.  Hopefully we’ll have more time to spend with and older and more experienced dog.  See you next year!


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