On Sunday, and for the second time this year, the King Edward Hotel went to the dogs. As the annual Santa Claus Parade rolled on outside, a different kind of parade was going on inside the hotel. Call it the “Santa Paws Parade.” Or the “Panting Claus Parade.” Or the “Santa Claus Purrrrrrade.” No wait, scratch that last one.
In anticipation of the first ever Winter Woofstock—the cold-weather version of Canada’s largest festival for dogs—a bunch of lovable canines and their human companions gathered at the King Eddy for a Christmastime puppy fashion show. Santa Claus (or at least some pretender, being as the real Santa was at the parade) was in attendance, asking all the puppies if they’d been naughty or nice or what. And as with June’s “Doggie Doggelganger [sic] Celebrity Look-Alike High Tea,” this “Doggie Holiday High Tea” had the King Edward staff shuffling around busing plates of dog treats and piping hot bowls of broth, while all the humans were left drinking room temperature water like a bunch of second-class citizens.
After pawing around Santa’s feet for a while, the dogs were ushered into the main ballroom for snacks and a fashion show. And, of course, no Christmas is complete without a ham. Enter host Winston Spear, a local funnyman and Last Comic Standing castoff who served as the High Tea’s discomfited host. After attempting to entertain the audience with one of his comic dances—which, we later found out, is indeed a thing (just see here, here, and if you’re really trying to ruin your day, here)—Spear, who by all appearances just hauled himself out of bed, was mostly drowned out in a din of dog barks. But who cares about Winston Spear? (This isn’t a rhetorical question, by the way.)
The real stars were all the dogs, whose cuteness ran the gamut from doggone delightful to paw-dorable. There were puppies dressed as Santa, Christmas trees, presents, snowflakes, seasonal tartan clothing, reindeer, “Bad Santa” (which was just a Santa dog with a studded belt and tapped-on blue Mohawk, not a dog that looked like a hungover Billy Bob Thornton), and even a couple Hanukah dogs. (Sadly, there were no dogs dressed as baby Jesus: further proof that the kind of people who dress their dogs up in costumes are basically godless.) Top honours went to Mac, who you may remember from June’s doggie fashion show as the Lady Gaga puppy. This time around, Mac was dyed green as the Grinch, stealing Christmas and our hearts.
As with all of these doggie high teas, the silliness and animal humiliation was for a good cause, with the price of admission being donated to the World Society for the Protection of Animals. And it also helped raise awareness for Winter Woofstock, which founder Marlene Cook couldn’t be more excited about. Like the summer version, Woofstock is a mix large-scale pet-supplied marketplace and dog-travaganza, boasting over one hundred vendors as well as plenty of dog-themed events.
“Winter Woofstock will begin with breakfast with Santa every morning,” says Cook. “There are also going to be wiener dog races and the running of the pugs.” While we never pressed for details about what, exactly, “the running of the pugs” entails, we’re certain that a ticket to it would be the perfect gift for the half-crazed dog lover on your Christmas list. Photos by Miles Storey/Torontoist. The first annual Winter Woofstock runs Saturday, November 27 and Sunday, November 28, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Direct Energy Centre (100 Princes’ Boulevard). For more information, check out their website.