Prepare to go barking mad for a new canine festival

A sample of the fun to be had at the North East Dog Festival.
A sample of the fun to be had at the North East Dog Festival.

There’s some pawsome family fun this weekend, with the emphasis on our four-legged friends.

The first Northumberland festival for dogs takes place at Central Bark, Whitehouse Farm, near Stannington, on Saturday.

The North East Dog Festival will offer numerous ‘have-a-go’ activities, such as flyball, agility, a dog show and terrier racing.

In the main ring there are gundog, scentwork and sled dog demonstrations.

And children will be entertained with pony rides, a mini-zoo, bouncy castle and carnival.

More than 80 trade stands will showcase local businesses and there will also be a beer tent.

“It’s all about bringing the family to have fun, and dogs are part of the family.”

Susan Gilbert

The festival is the brainchild of Lyndsey Rutherford and Susan Gilbert from Central Bark Daycare and Dog Training, and Dawn Oliver and Rebecca Ashworth from Raven River Dog Agility.

Ms Gilbert said: “There are a lot of festivals and events at this time of year and many of them are not dog-friendly, which is a shame. People want to go places with the family dog and enjoy themselves.”

The festival also aims to help some lesser-known canine charities to raise their profile, as well as the Longbenton Cat and Dog Shelter, and has made them guests of honour.

It is hoped that previously abandoned pooches will find loving new homes.

Ms Gilbert said: “The German Shepherd Rescue is one of the oldest dog charities around. It can be very difficult to find new homes for these dogs because of their reputation. They are seen as an aggressive breed, but as an animal behaviourist, I can say these dogs are incredibly intelligent and loyal.

“Mates United Siberian Husky Events and Rescue, or MUSHER, again is working with a breed some people are afraid of, but on our festival day on Saturday you will see these majestic dogs.

“The festival is not a charity event. It’s all about bringing the family to have fun, and dogs are part of the family.”

Ms Ashworth added: “There will be lots of things going on throughout the day and we hope it will keep everyone entertained. It means people can try their hand, or should that be paw, at a new activity.

“If you don’t want to give it a go, you can watch demos throughout the day, as well as the large agility fun show taking place.

“This is the first time our agility club has ever run such a big fun show and it’s great that it will be a small part of something so much bigger.”

The event begins at 10am. Entry is free, but there is a charge of £2 per car. For more information see www.northeastdogfestival.com