Dog 'speed-dating' and exotic pups at Pet Expo

Highlights at Pet Expo include an exotic dog showcase and dog adoption speed dating-style

You have 10 minutes to meet three new friends. If there is no connection, no harm done. But if there is chemistry, leave your number and it could be the beginning of something beautiful.

No, we are not talking about speed- dating for time-strapped Singaporeans, but a sassy new dog adoption scheme at the Pet Expo, which runs till Sunday at the Singapore Expo Hall Eight.

Wannabe dog owners who have registered online will each have a 10-minute face time with three dogs. After that, they can indicate their interest in any dog by passing its name to a volunteer. If you have not registered, you can just walk in, but the meetings are arranged on a first-come, first-served basis.

Up for adoption are 75 cross-bred dogs from seven welfare organisations such as the Causes for Animals Singapore and the Agency for Animal Welfare.

Now in its second year, the Pet Expo is gearing up to be a key annual event in the pet lover's calendar. There is a retail component, with booths selling items such as pet food and accessories.

In addition, workshops on pet care, competitions, as well as special events such as the dog speed-dating sessions, serve to entice all manner of animal lovers to visit.

One of the highlights is the Unique Pet Breed Showcase at 4.30pm on Saturday, where exotic breeds of dogs of all shapes and sizes will go on show.

Expect to see rare breeds such as a Newfoundland, a large working dog that is 1.6m tall standing on its hind legs, and a tiny teacup poodle which weighs just 2kg and, at 18cm, not much taller than a real teacup.

Other quirky events include a contest for the fluffiest rabbit, judged by blogger Wendy Cheng, better known as Xiaxue. She will be taking her Holland Lop rabbit, Igloo, to the event.

Feline fans will be happy to note that there is a Cat Selfie And Caption Contest. Earlier, a group of shortlisted cat owners and their furry friends had submitted selfies, and the public can vote for the winner. There is also a cat show organised by the Feline Fanciers Society Of Singapore.

Those who have more of a canine persuasian can look out for doggies strutting their stuff at the Unique Pet Breed showcase. One of the "models" is Quincy the Bedlington Terrier, a breed named after the mining town of Bedlington in England, its country of origin.

His owner Tracy Wee says that the fluffy, oval-faced dog is constantly mistaken for a lamb while on their walks in Pasir Ris Park and Gardens By The Bay.

The 32-year-old graphic designer says: "Sometimes, people will ask why I am walking a lamb, or even say kambing (Malay for lamb) when they see him. Quincy will then stare intently at them in return. He's quite smart and knows they're talking about him."

Ms Wee bought the dog, which turns five next month, at a pet shop in Hong Kong in 2010 for more than $7,000.

It had black fur as a puppy, which lightened as he grew - a characteristic common in Bedlington Terriers.

It wears a T-shirt to protect its sensitive skin, and has a healthy diet of raw meat, coconut water, Vitamin E, glucosamine and collagen powder, as do Ms Wee's two other dogs - a Schnauzer and a Scottish Terrier.

Also look out for the adorable teacup poodle Bahu (Hokkien for pork floss), so named by its owner for the colour of its light brown fur and its similarity to the dried meat product.

The docile four-year-old dog was bred by Mr Mark Tan, 38, who owns Dreamy Paws pet shop in Changi. Bahu is the child of his seven-year-old toy poodle, Ariel, and a friend's poodle.

Mr Tan says: "I wanted to have a puppy for when Ariel dies."

Although Bahu can get defensive at the sight of big dogs - he bares his teeth and barks - he gets along well with people, such as Mr Tan's three children, aged 11, six and two.

On the other end of the size spectrum is the gentle giant Bennett, a Newfoundland dog which weighs more than 40kg although it is just 15 months old.

No surprises that besides the Unique Pet Breed Showcase, he is also participating in the Biggest Dog contest at the Pet Expo.

Kitchen assistant Donna Chew, 29, who paid €3,000 (S$4,500) in total for the dog and its flight from France to Singapore, said she loves the breed for its affectionate personality.

Bennett is also making it to the small screen soon. He is starring in a MediaCorp telemovie starring Pierre Png.

Ms Chew says: "Bennett kept licking Pierre Png's face. The make-up artist had to keep touching up his make-up."

The volunteer at the Genesis School For Special Education has plans to train her friendly pet as a therapy dog.

As for most other visitors to the fair, they would probably be busy shopping for harder-to-find pet accessories at affordable prices.

Take property agent Daphne Hoon, 40, who is entering her Persian cat in the cat selfie contest and the cat show. She says: "I'm interested in items such as a mobile automatic feeder for my cat."

sarahgyx@sph.com.sg