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This weekend, every dog can have its day

by Magdalena Osumi

Staff Writer

Throughout history, dogs have played a key role in humans’ lives. In ancient times, some civilizations saw them as being linked to gods, others believed they could prevent death, and some saw their company as helpful in curing illnesses.

Now regarded as pets, they have lost much of their religious or cultural importance, but they still offer a level of companionship and loyalty believed to encourage relaxation and alleviate stress. Owning a dog, however, comes with responsibilities, and these days they are considered as members of the family, which means not only treating them well, but also making sure they have good manners.

This weekend, Yoyogi Park, one of Tokyo’s largest parks, is hosting the seventh “Wan Wan Carnival,” a canine festival where dogs and puppies can enjoy green lawns and exercise while learning some new tricks, and their human companions can get to know some fellow dog-owners.

Educating owners on how to keep their dogs under control was part of the original concept of this event, and one type of useful activity on offer are dog-training sessions, where puppies can learn how to behave like model canine citizens. You and your pooch can also show off obedience skills through a competition, where dogs are graded on how well they respond to the commands “sit” and “stay.”

Dogs can even participate in a challenge to beat Japan’s record for the largest number of dogs that can remain sitting for two minutes. Speed-eating and other games and contests are also scheduled.

Alongside all the activities, training and dog socializing, visitors can get health checks for their companions —and then there is the event’s biggest draw: the “shopping mall.” Here, visitors can purchase pet goods such as toys, clothing and food. Other attractions include stage demonstrations, various performances — such as a pet-celebrity audition — and quizzes. Pet photographers will also be on hand should you want a memento of the day. And for those who need a break, the Dog Café offers light meals for both you and your canine companion.

“Wan Wan Carnival” takes place at T Yoyogi Park on April 12 and 13 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The venue is a 3-min. walk from the JR Harajuku Station and Yoyogi-Koen Station (Tokyo Metro Chiyoda Line). Entrance and most of the attractions are free of charge. For more information call 03-6661-1420 or visit wanwancarnival.com/index.html.