Dog days of summer arrive in style

This fetching contestant in the Best Costume event at Woofstock 2013 displays amazing grace and elegance while wearing treacherous doggie footwear. (Julia Pelish/Vacay.ca)

Photos and Story by Julia Pelish
Vacay.ca Visuals Editor

TORONTO, ONTARIO — Woofstock 2013, North America’s largest outdoor festival of dogs, was in town this weekend proving once again that doggie love is alive and thriving in the heart of Toronto. All the usual suspects (princesses, stud collars, doggie carriages, the water fountain bubble romp, etc.) attended the extravaganza on one of the warmest weekends of the year so far.

Each year, Woofstock provides great photo opps. When I headed out, I just grabbed my knapsack and had forgotten that I had the Nikon 105mm DC lens on the camera body, a Nikon D7000. I had planned on bringing the 16-85mm lens so I would have a variety of shooting options. At first I was frustrated at my oversight, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Since I could not get close to the main stage, the longer lens turned out to be ideal. I often shoot portraits with the 105mm as it is exceptionally sharp, yet blurs out the background into a beautiful lovely soft bokeh, as you can see in the photo below (taken at f 6.3).

Lounging backstage, sans shoes, after a riveting stage-walk performance in the Best Costume contest, this beauty is ready to enjoy the rest of a dog-day afternoon at Woofstock. (Julia Pelish/Vacay.ca)

Dogs, alone or in packs, dominated the Woofstock grounds but they did bring along their loyal owners as well to enjoy the outing. Pretty much every breed of dog — and dog lover —  could be found strolling through the St. Lawrence Market and St. James Park festival areas. Every size, shape and fashion style known to canine or human was on display. Tiny accessory dogs, large athletic beasts, the most lovable breeds of humankind’s best friends, and even some breeds I had never before seen were in attendance. Best of all, everyone seemed to get along, even the humans — what’s not to love?

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A photographer who has worked in the largest media markets in Canada and the U.S., Julia’s travel photos and videos have been featured prominently in the Toronto Star and been exhibited in galleries in Toronto, New York and Vancouver. Her new line of photo jewelry was inspired by her travels. Even though she is an American, one of her favourite travel experiences was spending Canada Day 2000 on Parliament Hill, joining in a parade with then-Prime Minister Jean Chretien and others. Julia is Vacay.ca’s Visuals Editor. See her work at www.juliapelish.com/blog.