We have some VERY exciting news! Did you know that September 23, 2022, marks exactly one year since our very first public ticketed event! Which means…
OUR BIRTHDAY is COMING!!!
It has truly been an incredible year and we really could not have done it without YOU - our amazing community!
We’ve had an absolutely incredible year of saying “F*** it” to leaving our pups at home and so many crazy things have happened behind the scenes.
To celebrate a successful year of Doggos, over the course of the next ten days, Doggos is telling it all! We’re lifting the curtains and taking you behind the scenes of how we came to be - from how we first started, how our team grew, event fails, and funny stories behind some of your favourite Doggos events!
Be sure to check back every day - we’ll be releasing one new story a day leading up to our birthday!
Table of Contents
Day Ten - It's Our Birthday!
Thank you so much for joining us on our ten day behind the scenes countdown journey to our birthday! 🎉 🎉
Looking back on what we’ve done last year, we’ve showcased quite a few pup-centric experiences:
- Singles Social Events - Babes & Barks
- Our recurring Puppy and Bubbly Yoga Event
- A festive Pup-Friendly Indoor Howliday Market
- Virtual Cooking Event
- A Pup-Friendly Night Club event
- Fundraiser, Charity, and Rescue-based Pup Experiences
- Various Private and Corporate events
- A Dog-Friendly Comedy Night
- A Fashion and Drag Show
- Pup-Up Summer Market
Wow! We just wanted to thank you - our community! - again for joining us on our ten day countdown and for supporting our events this past year! We’ve had so much fun looking back and reminiscing about the year with you over the course of the last few days.
So What’s Next?
Our team is growing and we have ambitious plans to continue expanding Doggos beyond Toronto. We’ll still be planning plenty of pup-friendly events in the city (like an upcoming Halloween-themed party, and an upcoming holiday market in December), but we’re delighted to announce that we have plans to scale beyond the province of Ontario!
Fun Facts: Pup-Up Summer Market was the first time we’ve had a staged performance at an event! This market was also the event that really inspired us to define our current mission statement (which by the way is “to inspire businesses to open their doors to dogs and their owners”). After seeing how many wanted to bring our dogs to real grocery stores at our grocery store photo op, we were re-inspired by your words to really commit to making that goal our mission.
If you agree that more pups should be allowed at workplaces, or simply want dog-friendly places to become the norm, then join our movement and sign our petition to join our cause!
Day Nine - Doggosphere
This summer, the team expanded yet again, and Doggos needed a larger creative space for collaboration. Our previous meeting space - aka Francesca’s home office - was getting a tad too small.
In July, our team signed some papers, popped some bubbly, and celebrated getting our office & venue space on the beautiful Queen St W - a massive 2,300 square foot space we lovingly call, the Doggosphere.
Committing to a permanent space really marked the moment that Doggos was ready to give our community even more large-scale events and host even more community-based events like our SNIFF Party. Having our very own venue also meant that instead of hosting puppy yoga once a month, we could run them bi-weekly instead! High fives all around for more puppy yoga!
Having this space has made our team more productive, and more creative too! On the weekdays, the space serves as our team’s office space - where we come in to plan and set up our upcoming events. Then, at nights and the weekends, it transforms for public and private events.
If we could summarize our summer into one word - we’d probably pick “Doggosphere” - or “growth”! To us, both words basically mean the same thing - after all - the summer also saw our team expanding from a team of four to a team of six!
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to celebrate our birthday! We’ll be sharing our last and final post in our ten day countdown series and you’ll get a sneak peek of what we have planned for Doggos next year!
- Love the Doggos Team
One of the hardest things about planning and running an event is all the back and forth we needed to do with various venues. A lot of our time was spent convincing venues to host a pup-friendly event, negotiating venue budgets. But we eliminated the need for all of that once we got our own space. With our own venue, we have a lot more flexibility when it comes to how many events we can plan each month, and even the type of events too.
Fun Facts: Our newest hires - Maria - our blog writer (that’s me - hello!) and Emily - our social media manager - met the Doggos team for the first time this summer. Carlos actually found Maria on the Dog Friendly Places in Ontario Facebook group - where she would occasionally post lists of themed pup-friendly places to visit - like a list of Toronto breweries that allow dogs indoors. Emily, on the other hand, met the Doggos team at one of very own Puppy Yoga classes! She fell in love with the dachshund puppies that day, struck a conversation with our team, and one thing led to another, and now she’s our social media manager!
Day Eight - Double D's: Dogs and Drag
You asked - and we delivered! Did you know that our first drag pawty - Double D’s: Dogs and Drag was all because you all voted for more non-cis inclusive pup-friendly events?
After throwing a couple of singles social nights (our Babes & Barks), we received plenty of DMs requesting some pet-friendly love for the LGBTQ2S+ community.
Back at Doggos HQ, we put our heads together and got to thinking - what’s a fun, unique way to bring a social experience together where our community can kiki, drink, and dance with their pups?
We had an idea baking so when pride month rolled around - we hosted our first ever interactive dog, drag, and fashion show - aka Double D’s: Dog and Drag!
A drag queen musical performance with the fierce rock princess, Ophelia Manson? Check! Inviting the first-ever doggy drag queen, Miss Pickles the Pug to walk and judge our fashion runway? Check! Having a whole panel of celebrity pup fashionistas, like Iggy Joey, and Bacon the Doggers be the judge of our very own drag pup fashion runway? Killing it! Add a little sass with comedian fortune teller @winnyclarke? Ohh, spicy! Then, add a complimentary boozy drink for guests to enjoy? Well, we’d like to think that it was the cherry on top of an amazing event!
Did our team have a blast attending our own event? Um. YES! It was a roaring good time and while this might have been our first dog-friendly drag event that we’ve ever hosted, it certainly won’t be our last! A huge thank you again to you - our dear readers, followers, and fans for requesting more inclusive events! We love pushing the boundaries and creating these unique and unforgettable experiences with you!
Your voice really matters - without your comments and feedback on our other social events, Double D’s: Dogs and Drag might not have happened! So be sure to keep supporting our events, giving us feedback, and even sending us some of your own pup-friendly experiences requests and ideas!
- Love the Doggos Teams
Day Seven - Laugh Your Tail Off
You’re hearing it first from our team - there’s a little something addicting about receiving those pop-up notifications when you purchase one of our events. But… it’s an entirely other story when the pop-up notifications slow down - or worse - goes silent.
Out of all our events - Laugh Your Tail Off was our most unexpectedly nail-biting stressed-to-the-last-day kind of event.
You see, not only was it our first time working with a giant pup-influencer on a collaborative event (shout-out to @jauncydev for making it an absolutely stitch-inducing hilarious event), we honestly thought that an indoor pup-friendly comedy night paired with a complimentary alcoholic drink would be an instant sell-out hit immediately after promoting the event.
…. And it was! But only on the day of! You see, a week before Laugh Your Tail Off was set to happen, we had only sold forty five tickets to the event. Forty five out of a possible one hundred and fifty tickets at Steam Whistle Brewery. That’s 30% of tickets sold. To make matters worse, it was our first time working with a larger venue, our first time offering a large cash prize at an event, and it was our first time working with a large pet influencer. There were a lot of overhead pressures to ensure that this was a howl’ing success. We tried doubling-down on promotional efforts - but still, the day before, we’d struggled to sell-out the event.
So then how did we sell out? Well thanks to this event, we learned a very valuable lesson here at Doggos HQ. Comedy - apparently - was the type of event that people loved to join last-minute.
Now, we learned that there were three main type of events: events that sell-out immediately, like Doggos After Dark; events that sell consistently over time, like our Puppy Yoga classes; and events that sell on the day of - like Laugh Your Tail Off
And yes - we are planning on bringing back our pup-friendly comedy night in the near future! Keep your eyes peeled for an even bigger and better comedy night coming near you!
Thanks again for joining us on another day as we count down to our birthday! Tune in again tomorrow for another story as we take you behind the scenes of one of our most glamorous events to date - Double’s D and Drag and what it means to us!
- Love the Doggos Team
This was our event that took the longest to sell. We were so used to the fact that our past events were almost always sold out a week before, but this one had us freaking out - we had only sold 30% of our tickets and we were so worried it wouldn’t sell. Once the lineup of comedians was announced - we started to see sales come through. The day of, the sales just wouldn’t stop - to the point where there was a large line up outside begging to come in but we had sold out!
Day Six - Doggos Initiatives
There’s only a few more days until our birthday!
Today we’re giving you a little peek into how we’re seeing Doggos grow.
Did you know that just this year we started offering more services beyond public events? We also offer private, corporate, and philanthropic & community-based events too.
But, what we’re most excited to share with you today is how we started building out our community experiences! Thanks to our successful public events, we’ve had more resources (aka money and a growing following to really make an impact!) to really start looking into expanding our work to include even more pet-accessible initiatives for all.
This year, we started Doggos Initiatives - our answer to supporting dogs and pet owners in need. We work with individuals, nonprofits, and charities to:
- Aid pet owners under severe financial stress due to unexpected trauma or illness to their dog
- Support reputable rescues, nonprofits and charities targeting vulnerable pups
- Host pup-centric events that give back to the community (like Sick Kids Meetups, Puppy Parades, and more!)
And these events aren’t just solely focused on monetary donations to non-profit organisations either - we believe in promoting elevated wellness to our community as well. Since starting, we’ve:
- Donated $3,500 to Fetch and Releash
- Hosted a private Mother’s Day benefit event to support Helpaws rescue puppies from St. Lucia
- Opened a petition for more pet-accessible workplaces and experiences in Canada
We’re so grateful to know that our community is just as passionate about supporting dogs and pet owners in need. We’ve had several folks within our community actually reach out to us to volunteer and help with Doggos Initiatives experiences. Thanks to these passionate and dedicated volunteers, we’re really looking forward to being able to provide even more of these events to the community.
Thanks for tuning in and celebrating another milestone achievement with us today! Tune in tomorrow to find out which event had us thinking it’d be a flop all the way to the very last minute!
- Love the Doggos Team
Day Five - Doggos After Dark
Can you believe that we’re already halfway through our 10 milestone countdown?
We hope you’re enjoying these stories as much as we’ve been enjoying sharing them with you!
Let’s talk about today’s milestone! And in the spirit of taking an easy Sunday morning - would you guess that one of our smoothest events with the least amount of hiccups (logistically-speaking) was also one of boldest and biggest boundary-pushing events ever?
Doggos After Dark was our first attempt at being controversial - to be a little edgy - and add a bit of shock value. We wanted to see just how many people and businesses would say “We can bring our dogs where!?”
Actually - if we were super honest with you - we did have some initial misgivings. We thought we’d have a bit of backlash (kind of like our Bunny Yoga moment) from the community for even proposing such a ludicrous and wild idea. But imagine our surprise when we were met with hundreds of “omg yes!”, “PLEASE YES” responses after asking on social media.
The announcement picked up like wildfire - media outlets were intrigued, and people were sharing our post non-stop. It felt like almost everyone loved the idea! When we posted the tickets online - it sold out immediately! (Is this how big-time artists feel when their concerts get sold-out immediately after the ticket sales are released!? - because wow the adrenaline high as we saw all those ticket sales that day - uh-mazing! Thank you everyone who contributed - our team was dancing all night long from joy)
Even more amazingly, we thought that finding a venue or a nightclub willing to host our event was going to be next to impossible. But amazingly - Love Child Social House said yes and before long, we hosted Toronto’s first ever 300-person strong pup-friendly nightclub experience. We’re eternally grateful that yet another unexpected business said yes to our idea and was willing to take the chance to help us make our event dreams come true.
Even though it was a rainy night, it didn’t stop people from lining up patiently for their turn to enter the club and dancing their hearts out with their pups!
It was a really cool crowd of people, there was a line down the sidewalk, and people still talk about it today. It’s funny because at the time, this was the event we were most worried about when it came to planning, hosting, and logistics. We thought we’d be hitting complications at every point, but amazingly, Doggos After Dark was by far our smoothest planned event.
We hoped you enjoyed another day behind the scenes with us! Join us again tomorrow as we share our fourth from last milestone story with you as we count down to our very first birthday!
Want a sneak peek into what we’re going to share tomorrow? Hint - we see some phi·lan·thro·py on the horizon 🤲🌍🎁
- Love the Doggos Team
Day Four - Doggos Connect
We’re less than a week away from our birthday!
And as promised, with each new day, we’re sharing more behind the scenes of what went down in Doggos HQ last year!
Today’s story is about that one time we hosted our only virtual event during the good ole’ days of the lockdown.
For anyone who’s still processing 2020 right now (seriously - some days we can’t tell you what really went down during the non-event days in the last two years - months have been a literal blur), last January the province was still very much in lockdown.
At the time, our community was around 13,000 strong and to be frank with you - as with other in-person small businesses, we were having a hard time coming up with the best ways to share our events and experiences with you.
So we felt that a virtual event was the best way to make an experience as accessible and fun as possible to our entire lovely 13k community. Enter our first (and to be honest - probably last!) Doggos virtual experience - Doggos Connect!
What’s a cuter way to have a bit of pup-friendly fun stuck at home with other pup parents than sharing a virtual cooking experience!?
This is probably your time to audibly groan and mutter stuff like “oh no - not another Zoom virtual event!”
In our defense - we did the cooking event with a select few pup influencers before releasing the event to the public and honestly - according to our influencers, the event was great!
From purchasing the ingredients in the middle of a snowstorm to hand-packing every ingredient package to asking Lea’s boyfriend to deliver drive through a snowstorm (if you can’t tell - the snowstorm really made memorable impact on us), to having a ‘meh’ reception from our community on yet another virtual event - it was hard to see us doing this again.
There is a silver lining to Doggos Connect though! We still very much loved the idea of having more fun, for-the-community connections where we could connect with even more of you! So, while we've scrapped the virtual cooking event, Doggos Connect lives on!
We want to bring more dog-friendly events - but as a small team - there’s only so many we can plan and manage on our own.
Over the course of the year, we’ve met with so many small business owners around Toronto that tell us how our events have inspired them to create their own events - but they can’t find the right community to share it with!
So with the original spirit of connecting to the community, Doggos Connect now lives on as a platform for us to help connect (see what we did there?) other small businesses hosting dog-friendly experiences with you!
We help create or help other businesses promote and share their amazing experiences and you - our lovely community - get to choose between an ever growing collection of dog-centric events! A total win-win right?
Now, when you head to our Events page, you’ll see a section with Doggos Connect events - other pup-friendly experiences hosted by other companies! How pawesome!
We hope you enjoyed another one of our stories today! Come back tomorrow as we continue our countdown to our birthday as we spill the tea behind what really went down behind our boldest event ever - Doggos After Dark - our pup-friendly night club experience!
- Love the Doggos Team
- Around this time, Doggos expanded yet again - with Vickey (who actually attended several of our Doggos events before joining!) - our lovely PR writer onboarding to assist with event media relation.
- Does anyone who joined our Doggos Connect event remember Carlos’ nose bleeding during the live show?
Day Three - Howliday Market
Hello Doggos community! We’re back with another fun little story and it’s kind of crazy, but we’re only a week away from our birthday now!
December 2021 was the first time ever in Doggos history that the power trio that we know and love finally jumped into action together.
The Howliday Market is - to this date - our biggest and most ambitious event ever planned by the team. We
With over 30+ vendors, 1.2k+ attendees, and several media features of the event, the Howliday market was a crazy home run for us!
Also, we’ve got a little secret to share with you! Would you believe us if we said that we pulled it all off in under 8 weeks and that included handling a last-minute venue change from Enercare to Daniel Spectrum!? (Event planners are probably fainting from shock with the short timeline! We see you! 👀👀)
And while we might have been putting on cheerful holiday faces in front of the camera for you - behind the scenes - tensions were high. Pair a standard 9-5 job and add on hundreds of extra post-work hours planning a pup-friendly indoor market event and what do you get?
The perfect recipe for a stress fight. Behind the scenes – Francesca and Lea had their first stress fight leading up to this massive market. For Francesca, Lea, and Carlos, the days were long and it felt like everyone was squeezing 3-4 full-time jobs all at once in those 8 weeks. They were definitely long days!
But when the doors to the Howliday Market finally opened, and we saw you and your pups making your way to the Tree of Gifts, waiting in excited anticipation to take a Santa photo, and perusing all the small business vendor stands, it made the stress, the hours, and everything all worthwhile.
We’ve held a few events for Doggos, but this [Howliday Market] was the first time that an event completely inspired us to really do more events. We came up with this wild idea for an indoor holiday dog-friendly market, and then we just DID IT. It was literally a HOLY - people loved it and they want MORE!? Moment. It was INSANE. We loved seeing have such an enjoyable time and that made it so much more meaningful and worth it - despite being how crazy it was to plan it
To be honest - we didn’t think that so many pawrents wanted a dog version of the Santa holiday photo that much! We’re so glad that we were able to bring this to the community last year and we’re really hoping to be able to do it again! Fingers crossed it’ll be double? No, triple? No, FIVE times the size from last year - with even more Santa photo ops for everyone to look forward to!
Keep your eyes peeled for future Howliday Market announcements for more detail!
And that wraps up another exciting day of our countdown to our birthday!
We hope you’re enjoying our stories and be sure to stick around for tomorrow’s story on how we tried pivoting during the lockdown to hosting virtual events.
Spoilers - we’re kind of glad that we’re out of the lockdown because that event was another ruff one for the team.
- Lots of Doggos Team
Day Two - Puppy Yoga
Around last November, Doggos' introduced the puppy yoga experience - our first step to creating a recurring, curated event for the community to enjoy.
If you’ve ever wondered what it takes to plan a puppy yoga session, here are just a few things we do behind the scenes to make our puppy yoga experiences fun and safe:
- Set up puppy safety & waiver guidelines
- Source ethical breeders & rescues
- Source & puppy-proof venue
- Source yoga mats and instructors
- Event promotion and ticket management
- Bar Permits and more!
With so many tasks to do, extra help was needed! So, what’s a budding new events company to do?
In one fell swoop, Carlos took all the promotional duties for puppy yoga in stride (as a volunteer then too!) on top of his previous volunteer duties (helping with content creation for our weekly Meme Monday challenges).
What started as a fun after-work volunteer opportunity making the occasional Instagram story post, eventually transformed Carlos into a business partner role. Now, he’s busy building Doggos' community growth, leading content creation planning, and setting the creative narrative for our company!
Fun Fact: Ever wondered what happens in between puppy yoga classes? In between every class, Francesca may or may not take this opportunity to cuddle and nap with the pups in the back!
Bunny Yoga - A Tough Pill to Swallow During Easter
Fast forward a few months after our first Puppy Yoga event.
Easter was just around the corner, and by then, we’ve had several successful sold-out puppy yoga events under our belts. We were optimistic, and confident that we’d be able to plan any event and it’d be a sell-out hit.
As a fun surprise for our community - we wanted to flip puppy yoga on its head and celebrate Easter with a one-day special of bunny yoga instead.
Unfortunately, at the time we weren't aware of the high abandonment rates of rabbits after Easter, and genuinely thought it would be nice idea for everyone to enjoy.
But thankfully, we had our community to give us a good wake up call. A few hours after sharing some promotional pieces for our Bunny Yoga event, we were met with public outcries, several strongly worded comments about how it was a bad idea, and more than one heated debate in our comment thread.
We ended up (rightfully) never running the event.
This was one of the hardest weeks for Doggos. We really took the feedback to heart, and it wasn’t just one or two of us reeling from the backlash, it was probably the first time that all three of us felt defeated. Worse, we had 3 back-to-back unique events Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Honestly, it was a nightmare managing all the PR, logistics, and event planning. It was one of the lowest moments we had at Doggos and we really struggled with staying optimistic in our subsequent events. But even though it was a difficult time, we felt like this was a good opportunity to share this with the community.
The biggest takeaway we learned after cancelling this event? Do our due diligence before running an event we think would be cute and marketable.
Ultimately though, we’re really thankful that we have a community that isn’t afraid to call us out and tell us when an event isn’t the best idea.
Now, community outreach, extra research efforts, and ensuring we have full understanding of safety guidelines are always prioritized during our event planning sessions.
Doggos on Deck - for example, took 6 months of behind the scenes work planning, researching, and doing the proper community outreach to ensure that the experience was safe.
Fun (Painful!) Fact: We lost 2k followers seemingly overnight after promoting Bunny Yoga, and even got backlash from media outlets. Ouch.
Day One - Francesca and Lea
Who doesn’t love a good origin story? And Doggos’ origin story doesn’t disappoint! Today’s part 1 - is all about our first ever pup-friendly event and how Francesca met Lea.
If you’ve been following our social media for a while, then you’ll know that the brains, heart, and soul behind everything here at Doggos comes from the amazing power trio - Francesca, Lea, and Carlos!
So it might be hard to imagine that this time last year, this amazing trio did not exist. In fact, there wasn’t even a duo yet!
You might be wondering, what was Doggos like last year?
Well.. last year before Doggos Events, there was Allu Unleashed and Francesca - a small business owner with a huge love of dogs and a desire to pet every good girl and boy.
One fateful day, while hanging out with Hershey at the Trinity Bellwoods dog bowl, Francesca spotted a beautiful fluffy Samoyed, named Nala. Naturally, Nala was a very good girl so…
“Can I do a photoshoot of your dog with my Doggos bandana?” and that as we say, was how Francesca successfully pet Nala, and met Lea.
The two became fast friends and found plenty of common ground - like how they both loved dogs and were passionate about growing their small businesses while holding a full-time job.
So when Francesca hosted Doggos’ first-ever event - a 100-person strong, singles social networking event for pup parents to find love - Lea was there volunteering and supporting her friend’s event.
Fun Fact 1: Dafné - who also happens to be Lea’s cousin - is our amazing graphic designer. She was first commissioned at this event! She’s been our go-to graphic designer for all our tickets and other cute custom illustrations since then!
Babes, Barks, and Beers at Black Lab Brewing was not only a huge success for Doggos, but it was also a gigantic milestone for Doggos. It marked our shift from selling apparel to transforming into an events-based company, and with it came a whole multitude of first-time achievements:
- First business partnership
- First time managing event logistics
- First time managing customer services, social media promotion, and media relations for events (which vastly differed from how a product-based company worked)
Fun Fact: Did you know that Babes and Barks is one of Doggo’s most popular events? Since last year we’ve gone on to host another three more singles social events for pup parents! We did it twice at Black Lab Brewing for an audience of 100, then once at Steam Whistle earlier this year for 150, and just yesterday, for 250 attendees at Stackt Market!
After seeing the huge success and work it took to plan an event, Lea proposed a joint event with Doggos to combine promotion efforts for her own small business, Chubbies Candles for the holiday season.
After months of seeing each other’s incredible work ethic, coupled with experience working together for the first time at an event, partnership between the two just ✨made sense✨.
I’ve proposed a lot of joint events with other businesses in the past, but it never really panned out. To be honest, I didn’t think a partnership would actually happen when I asked Francesca. But Francesca was totally for it. I literally got home from the cottage Sunday night, and by Monday night, I got a full brief of the event, and how we’d work together.
And that was how the Howliday Market, and subsequent partnership between Francesa and Lea was born!
We hope you enjoyed Part 1 of our origin story! Come back tomorrow to learn more about how Doggos met Carlos in tomorrow’s post!
- Love the Doggos Team