Sights, Sounds -- and Smells -- from France's Animal Expo
Even though I live about 350 miles southeast of Paris, I made my way up to the French capital last weekend for Animal Expo -- France's largest annual pet expo.
In the press package mailed to me a few weeks before the event, I was told there would be more than 10,000 pets (including 400 dogs and 800 cats), as well as 200 different vendors in a giant trade fair hall. All of this furry and feathered fabulousness situated in the beautiful Parc Floral de Paris for two full days.
For a pet-obsessed person like myself, it promised to be a great time, and it was.
Let me give you a glimpse of what I saw.
Part one: the cool
Dogs and puppies of all shapes and sizes: I'm a huge dog lover, and take pride in the fact that I know a lot of different breeds. Pet shows like Animal Expo are a great way to see some of the more rare breeds up close and personal. It was my first time ever seeing a real Chinese Crested and I thought they were just le cutest.
And what about these lovely Afghan Hounds? (It's a little hard to tell where the dogs end and the throw rug begins ...)
This guy was strolling around for photo ops. Do you know what breed he is?
The products: I kept my eyes open for new and interesting products that stood out as particularly French or European. I especially loved these all-natural dog treats packaged in authentic style Camembert cheese style boxes.
The treats are made by Natyka, and 1€ of each sale was donated to one of four French animal charities partnered with La Conciergerie Caniféline, a website that lists dog-friendly accommodations and services throughout France.
And what would be a pet exhibition without dog poop bags? These were my favorite:
I also picked up a bottle of Thor, an anti-anxiety oil made by Danish dog food company Uniq NordicGold. My dog, Pinch, is plagued by anxiety, and I'm always up for trying natural remedies to help him out. This product is a mix of organic camomile, valerian, citronella and hops, with no artificial ingredients or flavors. You mix the required dose (based on weight) into your dog or cat's food a couple of days before a stressful situation. I have to take Pinch on a five-hour train ride in a few weeks, so I hope this works!
And this booth was selling all-leather dog clothing. Only in Paris ...
The animal associations: What I really liked about Animal Expo was the diversity of booths. For the most part, you had vendors selling various pet products and breeders showing off their pedigreed dogs and cats, but there were also quite a few animal organizations on hand to talk about their work.
Many of them were selling fun pet-inspired products to raise money for their cause, and a few even brought animal ambassadors like Cesar, a gentle giant saved by Dogue Allemand Nôtre, which rescues, rehabilitates and adopts out abandoned and abused Great Danes.
But, as awesome as Animal Expo was, there were nevertheless a few lowlights.
Part two: the not-so-cool
The crowds: Okay, so I knew the weekend event would be crazy-busy, but I didn't think it would be basically impossible to navigate throughout the exhibition center without being constantly run over by strollers or sent flying into displays of cat trees. In 2012, Animal Expo had over 42,000 visitors, but they have yet to publish this year's attendance. I'm willing to bet there were more than last year, but it could just be my agoraphobia talking.
Most of the animals handled the crowds well, but my heart broke for some of the puppies who were huddled together in their pens obviously freaking out from all the noise and commotion.
The smell: With that many people AND animals housed in a relatively cramped space, obnoxious odors were pretty much a given. Dogs had accidents on the floor and there were easily a couple hundred litter boxes in use -- as well as some questionable human hygiene. My tip? Breathe through the mouth.
Puppy sales: I saw quite a few visitors leaving the expo with new puppies cradled in their arms. I can only hope that these people made informed and responsible decisions when purchasing their new pet from one of the breeders, and that none of these pups was an impulse buy. I'm all for breeders coming to these shows with their dogs to educate people about the breed, but in my opinion, a responsible breeder shouldn't sell a puppy to someone he or she just met at this type of event. What do you guys think?
And, because this is Europe, there was more than a little bit of ...
... the completely random (part three)
In addition to living jewelery, there was also a snack truck set up outside the event hall selling (overpriced) fries, crêpes and wine by the glass (this is France, after all). But inside, I saw no less than four of these giant candy stands just hanging out in between various booths. Here's my problem with them: Besides being a total ripoff, the bins of candy were all uncovered and basically at toddler-height off the floor. Who knows what collected on the sticky surface of those gummy bears and sour rings as thousands of people strolled by just next to them? (My best guess would be dog and cat hair). And I would hope that people going past with larger dogs paid close attention, because a Great Dane or Golden Retriever could have easily swiped a mouthful of sugary treats (or, at the very least, gave those alligators a good lick).
Expensive, uncovered bonbons at dog's eye level inside a pet show? No. Just no.
Animal Expo was a lot of fun, and I hope to go back next year. If you are ever in Paris in early October, make sure to stop by and check it out!
All photos by moi, Crystal Gibson.
About Crystal Gibson: A child-sized Canadian expat in France who is fluent in French and sarcasm. Owned by a neurotic Doxie mix, a Garfield look-alike, and two needy Sphynx cats. An aspiring writer and pet photographer with a love of coffee and distaste for French administration, she can be found blogging over at Crystal Goes to Europe.