When Tatum Brown was fired from her Canberra corporate job for being ‘too creative’, she thought it was time to change tack.
“I decided to put passion and purpose together and started Dating With Dogs,” she says with a laugh. “That was a sellout and it grew from there.”
This success led to The Social Dog Company, an award-winning social enterprise that uses events to unite a community of dog lovers.
“We understand the special bond between canines and humans, and therefore our events cater to both dog lovers and dog owners,” says Tatum.
“Our events have been nationally recognised for being innovative and supporting the community. These events include Dating With Dogs, Canines and Cocktails, Mental Health and Mutts Support Days, and community dog days.”
Hosted by The Social Dog Company, Canberra’s most pup-posterous and dog-centric event of the year is set to return to QT Canberra on 24 April from 11 am until 3:30 pm.
BarkFest 2.0 promises a “line up of activities your dog and you will roll over and die for”.
“Think perfectly plated fancy feasts for your pup that would give Gordan Ramsay a run for his money; 25 doggie stalls; and, of course, an op-pawtunity for your pups to become the next Picasso at the event’s puppy painting station,” says Tatum.
“Being the biggest day in your dog’s social calendar, all puppers are encouraged to dress to impress for the event’s best-dressed competition.
“I like to be inclusive so we also have Drags to the Rescue, where drag queens will parade with dogs who need forever homes.
“While the day is primarily a fundraising party for pooches, we haven’t forgotten about two-legged humans. Guests can secure the best seat in the house with reserved seating on the QT Deck, or for something a little more casual they can grab a bite to eat and a drink at the Capitol Bar & Grill stall on their way to a ‘Paint Your Pet’ session hosted by local artists [studio] Pinot & Picasso.”
All funds raised at BarkFest 2.0 will go to nonprofits The Rainbow Paws Program and Greyhound Connections.
“After last year’s record-breaking crowds and community support in raising valuable funds for our local rescue organisations, we are excited to put Canberra on the map as being a dog friendly city,” says Tatum.
“It’s also really important we show our continued support for our local rescue organisations that depend on donations to operate.”
While ACT residents have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in Australia, Tatum believes many businesses are missing out on the opportunities that creates.
“In Sydney, you can go to the pub and take your dog inside with you,” she says. “In Melbourne, dogs are everywhere.
“Dog ownership has grown so much and we want to incorporate our dogs into everything we do.
“I want to create more spaces for dogs. I think it’s a growing industry and companies are starting to see the opportunities. I really want to put Canberra on the map, not only for pet ownership but also as a place people can visit with their dogs.”