No Pinkies Up At This Tea Party
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No Pinkies Up At This Tea Party

2007_06_04monty.jpg Yesterday afternoon marked the kickoff event for Woofstock, North America’s biggest outdoor festival for canines. The King Edward Hotel hosted high tea for dogs who have survived cancer, or are currently battling the disease, and their owners. While some might scoff at the idea of a tea party for dogs, you’d be hard-pressed to find an event more heart-warming.
The tale of Monty the Bernese Mountain Dog, for example, is the stuff movies are made of. Having lost two of this very breed to cancer, Torontoist was pleased to learn this gentle giant’s story has a much happier ending. When he was five, Monty had a mass cell tumor attached to his jaw. He had surgery, but it wasn’t able to get all of the cancer and the vet told his owner, Faye Ego, that with chemotherapy and radiation the dog would only live about six months. She decided it wasn’t worth putting him through the treatment to extend his life such a short amount. Instead, she fed him an abundance of vitamins and a new, high-quality food. Fast forward two years, and Monty is miraculously completely cancer-free.
Duffy, a golden retriever, is another success story. The day after he served as the ringbearer in his owners’ wedding, the couple noticed he was limping. The cause turned out to be cancer in his front left leg and he was given only a ten percent chance of living for one more year. After surgery to remove the affected leg, Duffy was depressed for the first couple of weeks. But now, three years later, he’s motoring along. “He can do anything a four-legged dog could do,” says Tara, one of his two owners.
The dogs were treated to bowls of broth and canine cookies presented on pristine white tablecloths topped with artfully folded napkins. Some hopped right up onto the tables, taking full advantage of the chance to get a break from the vet’s office and be king or queen for a day. Many strolled down a miniature runway for a “tribute walk,” as their owners told the crowd the status of their pooch’s fight with cancer. For some levity, they were followed by a dog fashion show. The winning designer won a free booth to display her wares at the main Woofstock festival.
2007_06_04faygela.jpg While the event was designed to pamper the dogs, it was as much about their owners as well, allowing them to commiserate with other people going through the same painful process (“Oh, look, another Duff!” exclaimed his owner as a three-legged greyhound walked in) and spend some unique quality time with their pet. Rudy, another Bernese, was diagnosed with cancer just a week ago. One of his owners, Mimi Jones, says that when you’re drawn to large breeds, “You know that the time you have with them is going to be short.” Now, facing the possibility that at after just six-and-a-half years they may soon have to say goodbye, they’re making the best of it. “We’re just trying to do stuff with him that’s fun and enjoy our time with him,” says Mimi, about what drew them to high tea. “When we heard about this, we thought ‘What a riot.’ And it was. It was a ridiculous event. It was a riot.”
Woofstock itself happens this upcoming weekend in the St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood. Front Street will be closed from Jarvis to Yonge to make space for events like the Stupid Dog Trick and Best Costume contests, the Ms. and Mr. Canine Canada Pageant and the Rescue Me Walk-A-Thon, a fundraiser for very worthy canine rescue groups.
Photos from top: Faye and Monty; Faygela, who luckily doesn’t have cancer—her owner brought her to a previous high tea and says she had so much fun she couldn’t resist coming back to support the Ontario Veterinary College Pet Trust Fund, which this year’s tea was raising money for.

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