First came cave paintings. Then, much later, came greetings cards. Now we have memes and Instagram. For thousands of years humankind has loved looking at animals.
So, on February 14, Valentine’s Day, there can be only one activity Abu Dhabians are willing to pursue. Looking at cute animals.
Anything else would be a rejection of thousands of years of culture. The Yas Pet Festival is going to be a celebration of cats, dogs and cuteness in all shapes and sizes.
Taking over du Arena for one day only it is an opportunity to see, fall in love with and, if you are extremely lucky, pet animals.
Whether you are a pet owner wanting to show off your animal or an enthusiast who just has to see furry friends live and in person every once in a while it is an opportunity to get your fur fix.
Here are 10 reasons why it is the best way to spend the most romantic day of the year.
In case you didn’t know it, dog shows are big business. They can be super-competitive, fascinating and impossible not to get over-involved with. We’re talking picking favourites and supporting them more than anything you have ever supported anything in your life before. An enormous list of competing breeds is an indication of just how many animals are expected (more than 1,000 pets predicted) and there are plenty of prizes on offer. Best dogs in male, female, breed, junior and veteran categories are up for grabs. Most impressive of all, however, is the Best In Show winner. Basically this is a dog that has every justification for calling itself the finest in the UAE, and that is something we have to see.
Like a dog show, but for cats. To huge swathes of the population there could not be a better way to describe an event. Categories include long hair, short hair, kitten, adult and pedigree with prizes being offered to the cream of the crop. Don’t give them cream, though, they’re lactose intolerant.
If, after watching the various animal shows, you need to get a furry fix, this is the place to visit. Animal handlers are on standby to help teach you how to properly pet the exotic and friendly animals in this area. Be respectful of the creatures and there is a photo to remember just waiting to be taken.
As well as the best in breed beauty pageants, large and small dogs will be invited to take place in a dog agility competition. Like the ones you may have seen on TV, this is a contest that sees a happy dog, tongue lolling out, dash across a mini-assault course while its owner proudly trots alongside offering encouragement and maybe snacks. Well worth a watch.
K9 police dogs
The police dog is the muscle-bound hunk of the canine world. In an animated movie it is the one that is going to be voiced by The Rock or, maybe, Vin Diesel. The incredible animals and trainers of the UAE Police K9 Dog Squad may as well strut into the arena wearing sunglasses and tactical vests. They’re just that cool. The levels of ability of these hero animals, which are trained to disarm criminals and detect drugs, is breath-taking. Demonstrations will be interactive and include members of the public and children. This bit is highly recommended.
Time Out would never knowingly lie to you, dear reader. So we have to admit to being giddy with excitement after reading the words “fancy dress competition for pets and owners”. At the time of going to press we didn’t know exactly what this event entails, other than it is a prized contest. However, if there is even the remotest possibility we will see an adorable dachshund and a fun-loving owner dressed in matching hot dog costumes we might actually faint. We just hope somebody revives us in time for the animal catwalk show, which we are assured is a model runway for pets. Instagram at the ready.
If you go to a family event in Abu Dhabi and there is not a child running around with Spider-Man make-up have you really been out at all? Expect some face-painting, fun and games in this dedicated area. It’s right next door to the petting farm and refreshment area, so makes a good base from which to make forays into more animal viewing (after you’ve had a breather).
While no pet owner could ever love somebody else’s animal more than their own, we’ve probably all been guilty of casting an admiring glance in another’s direction. Perhaps it is the dog that comes when beckoned while your pooch chases its own tail in circles. Maybe it is the cat that affectionately sits on a lap while yours scratches up anybody who comes within a hissing distance? Whatever the situation the Yas Pet Festival has animal trainers and behaviour experts on site and will be able to answer questions and arrange sessions to help animals and their owners.
Obviously local pet groups, animal experts and veterinarians were consulted about the show before hundreds of animals were invited to come and be under one roof. There will also be vets on site, as well. That makes it an excellent opportunity to register animals and discuss issues of concern. It is also an opportunity for non-animal owners or first-time pet parents to get information about safely looking after animals in the home.
An attraction likely to be popular with pet owners as well as the little critters themselves. Organisers are promising an “upscale and diverse selection of products”. This being Abu Dhabi there is a very real chance this could mean tiaras for poodles and actual diamond-studded collars for cats. At the very least we’re hoping for some edible animal treats and the occasional squeaky toy.
Free entry. Friday, February 14, 1-9pm. du Arena, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, www.petfestival.ae (050 585 1394).