It’s a dog’s life in Belfast as pets get therapies and massages
Waggy tails and wet noses were unleashed yesterday afternoon as Belfast hosted Northern Ireland's first Dog Expo.
The Agape Centre on the Lisburn Road was transformed into a paradise for pampered pooches, offering an array of stalls and expert talks catering for canines.
From massages to Reiki sessions, hydrotherapy and treats, the event provided a one-stop-shop for the discerning mutt-about-town.
The initiative is the brainchild of Jo-Anne Crossley from Dog Friendly Food Tours and dog trainer Robin Bates.
"There really hasn't been anything else like it in Northern Ireland," said dog-lover Jo-Anne.
"Our plan is to grow this into a much bigger event over the next year or two, like Dogfest in England.
"There is certainly an appetite for an event like that here - the dog-friendly market in Northern Ireland has started to explode."
Rosie Moore, of Glorious Creatures Reiki for Animals, provides the alternative therapy for both four-legged and two-legged customers.
"Reiki is energy healing which originated in Japan," she explained. "Animals just love it.
"It can relax a dog, make it feel at ease. If it has some nervous problems or anything physical it can help with that too.
"It gets the body to heal itself, it lines up all the chakras.
"There aren't a lot of people who treat animals but that's where my main focus is.
"Each treatment lasts about 45 minutes. It costs £35 per hour for the dog. Afterwards the animals feel more relaxed.
"Now people are starting to understand these things and accept them."
Samantha Laming, of Northern Ireland Clinical Canine Massage, uses four massage techniques to keep hounds happy.
"I'm the first qualified clinical canine massage therapist in Northern Ireland," she revealed.
"It can be relaxing, but in most of the dogs it's actually pain management without the need for drugs. I have about 40 repeat clients and I travel across Northern Ireland.
"I have massaged every single dog from Chihuahuas to Newfoundlands, from lapdogs to agility working dogs which are seeing issues with their performance.
"Each treatment lasts from 40 minutes to an hour, with the initial treatment costing £45 and each session after for an hour would be £40."
East Belfast woman Nicola Carey (30), attending the event with Bella the pug, said it was a "smart move for businesses to become more dog-friendly".
"The pet industry is really big here," she said. "There are a lot of chances for local businesses to make a lot of money from it."
Ballygowan woman Charis Saunders (21) was attending the event with her labradoodle Ebony.
"I would try Reiki or massage for Ebony, she's my baby," she said." For grooming, Ebony gets a facial, perfume, bandana - the full works.
"Last Christmas she got a custom-made toy chest saying 'Ebony's Toys' and she has a birthday party with a cake and her mates every year.
"I love pampering her any way I can."