19 September 2023

Playful pets set to have a ball at paw-some puppy fiesta while others hope to find their fur-ever families

| Keeli Royle
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Dog playing in ball pit.

The fun event may have doggy ball pits and painting but there is an important cause behind it. Photo: Keeli Royle.

It’s set to be Illawarra’s biggest day of fur-friendly fun but behind this year’s celebration of man’s best friend is a mission to help many abandoned dogs find their ‘fur-ever’ families and finally be adopted into a loving home.

The Pound Paws Dog Day is set to return to North Gong Hotel for another year, with the ‘paw-some’ event the perfect opportunity to show off or spoil your pet.

“It’s probably the most incredible atmosphere, it’s nothing like you’ve ever been to before,” North Gong Hotel 2IC manager Tom Sienkiewicz said.

“There’s all these dogs running around, it’s very wholesome – if I had to describe it, a very wholesome day and it’s just fantastic.”

The annual event showcases the pub’s pet-friendly policy and highlights that you don’t have to miss out just because your four-legged friend is tagging along.

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“We’re probably one of the only venues around this area that allows dogs, we’re very dog friendly,” Tom said.

“It’s also good if you’re out in the afternoon and you’ve got your dogs and kids with you, you can still come in for a beer or something.”

Dog enthusiasts will take over the hotel’s beer garden and carpark with competitions being held for best tricks and costumes, to be judged by prominent local figures such as former Illawarra Hawks player AJ Ogilvy and Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery.

Pound Paws dog day 2022 at North Gong hotel with Gordon Bradbery and other judges.

Prizes for best tricks and costumes will be decided by VIP judges. Photo: Supplied.

And even if tricks aren’t your dog’s cup of tea, you might discover they have a new talent at the Paw-casso station.

“We’ve got arts and crafts for dogs, a doggy ball pit, all those sorts of things so it’s really a day dedicated to the dogs of the Illawarra area,” Tom said.

Market stalls will be selling goods such as doggy beer, snacks and even pawsecco so your dog can also indulge in a pub feast.

But alongside all the vibrant activities, Pound Paws founder Brittany Bloomer said the event had an important purpose.

“The mission of Pound Paws dog days is to help raise awareness for pet adoption by involving a variety of either local rescue groups, or rescue groups that are quite far away for individuals to drive to by bringing them to a location that’s central to everyone,” Brittany said.

Dog wearing bandana that says 'Adopt me'

At the heart of the dog day is the hope of getting more pets adopted. Photo: Supplied.

“These rescue groups bring along dogs for adoption, they fundraise and also can look out for potential volunteers or foster carers to help them operate their rescue group.”

If someone makes a special canine connection, they can start the application process on the day and prepare to be part of the incredible dog community in the Illawarra.

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“The dog day at Wollongong has grown significantly and I think it’s because people are realising the beauty of dogs being icebreakers in terms of creating an interactive experience between each other,” Brittany said.

“We’re seeing that people are even getting just one ticket so it kind of shows that people are feeling confident to socialise and share their love for dogs with each other and you also witness that on the day.”

The event is on 23 September from midday with the first people to arrive to receive a KONG gift bag filled with treats and toys.

To register your interest in North Gong’s Pound Paws Dog Day visit the event website.

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