It is a beautiful Autumn day. The sun glimmers over green vines while live music and social chatter fills the air outside Plumpton’s Witchmount Winery. It seems like any normal social outing, interacting with new people and toasting to new beginnings.
Or so it was thought…
On Saturday the 6th of April 2019, Witchmount Winery hosted their second Canines and Vines dog and wine lovers event. All pooches, big and small, accompanied their owners in a day of wine tasting and mingling, with something in store for everyone.
It was adoration for her dog Wilbur that inspired event organiser, Natalie Smith, to host the event.
“I’m a dog lover myself and I love dog friendly events,” Ms Smith said.
“We thought, why don’t we make it a dog friendly event, get people out, not leave their furbabies at home.”
This wasn’t the first time Witchmount Winery hosted the event, the first Canine and Vines event occurring in December last year. Natalie received such great feedback, further inspiring her to host the event again.
“The amount of fun we had, the amount of smiles that I saw…it was just a great day,” Ms Smith said.
French Bulldog enthusiast, Vicky Vladic, attended the event for the first time and found herself in love with the experience.
“It’s great because most of the dogs are really friendly, so you feel comfortable meeting them,” Ms Vladic said.
Although it was an afternoon of social interaction and pure enjoyment, there still remains an underlying concern. Despite the RSPCA stating that 62% of Australian households own a pet dog, the canine culture continues to lack in Melbourne’s north-western suburbs.
A prominent cause to our diminishing dog culture may be due to the rise in dog-related incidents, with Victoria the third highest state in Australia to have the most dog attacks, according to the Adelaide Dog Attack Register. With many dog attacks occurring in suburban and rural areas, some Australian’s are therefore hesitant to attend dog-friendly events
Dog Bite Facts further explains that these high numbers draw a large extent of media attention. As a result, stories and reports on dog-related incidents are sensationalised, generating a negative stereotype towards certain breeds, including Australia’s dog the Canis Dingo.
Special guests from the Australian Dingo Foundation were welcomed to Saturday’s event, to educate the dog-loving community on the dingo population and their presence in Australia’s society.
La Trobe student and Australian Dingo Foundation volunteer, Kevin Newman, explained that due to a lack of education, some Australian’s possess prejudices against the dingo, contributing to their endangerment in their natural environment.
“We obviously are all about education. So getting dingoes out to the public so they can meet them, learn more about them and see that they’re not that scary.”
Mr Newman continues to express that it is events like Canines and Vines that assists with spreading the word surrounding the organisation’s cause as it exposes individuals to the matter itself.
“Events where people are able to hang out with their dogs and then come and learn a bit more about our native dog in Australia are really important because everyone has such a strong connection with their dog,” Mr Newman said.
The purpose of events like Canines and Vines is not only to bring people together but to also build on our dog culture, a significant element of our society that we cannot afford to lose.
For those who would like to support Natalie Smith at Witchmount Winery or the Australian Dingo Foundation, can receive more information online via the hyperlinks in this article, to find out more about their roles in rebuilding Melbourne’s canine culture.