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Show Off Your Dog’s Style And Tricks At This Virtual Talent Show To Benefit Local Rescue Shelters

Two women-led dog groups are teaming up to celebrate Chicago's dog community with a virtual talent show.

A Pomeranian rocks some sunglasses at the Recess patio in the West Loop.
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CHICAGO — You can show off your pet’s jaw-dropping tricks and exceptional fashion sense during a virtual talent show that will support local dog businesses and shelters.

The Dog Days of Summer Talent Show on May 18 brings together Chicago pet parents eager to show off their pup’s style and tricks or photos of them exploring the city, all while raising money for local shelters.

The event is organized by Real Dog Moms of Chicago and Green Paws Chicago, a Roscoe Village dog-walking company. Tickets to the virtual happy hour are $40 and include a cocktail kit for two from Recess Patio + Bar and Ketel One Botanicals in West Loop, a pet-friendly plant from Sunnyside Plants in Jefferson Park for the first 30 people who sign up, and dog treats from local businesses.

“I wanted to bring the pet moms together and kick off the summer as things start to reopen and as people start to think about what adventures they want to do with their dogs,” said Riti Sobilo, growth officer at Green Paws Chicago.

To participate, folks can send photos of their pet and enter in one of three categories: Vanity Fur, which highlights pets with a quirky fashion style; Anything is Pawsible, for videos of special tricks and twirls; and Muttropolitan Adventures, which showcases dog exploration in the city. 

Pet parents have until the end of Sunday to submit photos and videos to The submissions will be compiled by category for the show on Tuesday, which kicks off 5:30 p.m. via Google Meet.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Two dogs, one wearing a shamrock bandana, greet each other. After announcing earlier this month that the river wouldn’t be dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day for a second straight year, the river was dyed Kelly green after all early Saturday morning, March 13, 2021

Participants can pick up the event kits noon-9 p.m. this weekend or noon-6 p.m. Monday at Recess, 838 W. Kinzie St.

Jes Hiltner, president and cofounder of Real Dogs of Chicago and the shelter director at Hinsdale Humane Society, said all kinds of dogs are welcome to participate — whether you are “a Chihuahua lover or some crazy big beast.”

Hiltner’s group connects rescues with dog-friendly businesses and dog lovers. The group hosted annual fundraising events before the pandemic that were a mix of “doing good while having fun,” which is the group’s motto.

Hiltner said 100 percent of event proceeds will go to Chicagoland rescues. The group, largely made up of volunteers, takes in no income.

Since 2018, Real Dog Moms has raised $200,000 for local rescues. Despite not being able to host in-person events during the pandemic, the nonprofit raised over $50,000 for 19 local organizations by the end of last year, she said.

The summer talent show has the same spirit as other Real Dog Moms events, and its proceeds will be donated to one or multiple rescue shelters, depending on the need, though none have been pinned down yet, Hiltner said.

“The money will go to support an animal that didn’t have a chance without the shelter’s help and selecting, at will, a specific animal, not specifically a shelter,” she said.

Participation isn’t required to attend the event. It’s also open to non-dog parents who want to vote for the winners.

Three grand prizes for each category will be awarded at the end of the show, which include one custom pet portrait by Hello Spencer, a pet-related book by Roscoe Books and a pet CBD tincture from Cubbington’s Cabinet. 

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