5 minutes with: Woofstock's Marlene Cook - Metro US

5 minutes with: Woofstock’s Marlene Cook

We talk barks, poop and puppies in Santa hats with the grand dame of North America’s largest dog day, Woofstock.

Where did the idea for Woofstock originate?
I don’t want to use the cli­ché, but my dogs are part of the family. However, in Ontario, the laws are really strict. In Paris you can take your dog to a fancy eatery, and in Chicago they have a thing called a pug crawl where people can take their pugs to the bar. So we’re trying to give an outing for you and your dog.

What are some of the highlights at this weekend’s Winter Woofstock?
This year we’re giving away a doggie treadmill. And as always, we’ll have tons of vendors with vitamins, supplements, creams and grooming products. Personally, I’m looking forward to the running of the pugs.

What do you think it is about a dog in clothes that sends people into squealing ­paroxysms of delight?
A lot of dogs are just really cute to begin with, but us­ually the outfits are ador­able. In the summer they’ll have little cherries on them, or a sundress. For Christmas it’s going to be crazy because people are going to be dressing their dogs as reindeer, Santas. We’ve ordered 100 Santa hats with beards. Just imagine it! The hat’s OK, but putting the little beard on the dog is too funny.

How would you respond to people like Jay Leno who consider dressing up your animals akin to abuse?
Most people are not dog people who say that sort of thing. I think that if they had a dog and they loved the dog and it was Christmas, I would be very surprised if they wouldn’t do it. I think that they don’t embrace the doggy experience.

Can there be a danger in doting too much on your pet?
I think that there are always people that go to extremes, but the only thing the dog is really getting is more love or attention.

What are some of the things that can happen in a room full of that many dogs?
Some of them can growl at each other, but I think most people know the cues. The only thing that I can see is we may have a few things to pick up on the carpet.

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