California’s Dreamin’ of Dogs Thanks to Dog Film Festival in LA

Petco Foundation President Suzanne Kogut, Andie MacDowell, Melissa Rivera and Tracie Hotchner


The first stop on the Dog Film Festival national tour was a huge success!

I am over the moon with excitement over how great the Dog Film Festival launch went this past weekend in Los Angeles. Seems like the whole town turned out to celebrate the chance to come to a tea party and the movies with their pooches – all dressed to the nines!

Kicking off a 12-city tour, the Dog Film Festival—made possible by a grant from Petco Foundation and with continuing sponsorship from our founding sponsor, Halo Purely for Pets —screened at the Crest Westwood Theater on June 5, with the Afternoon Tea Pooch Party held the day before at VCA West Los Angeles Animal Hospital.

Our beneficiaries – Downtown Dog Rescue and the Lange Foundation – were grateful to receive 50% of all the ticket proceeds, as well as a donation to each of them of 10,000 Meals from Halo, in partnership with and

Petco Foundation President Suzanne Kogut, Andie MacDowell, Melissa Rivera and Tracie Hotchner
Petco Foundation President Suzanne Kogut, Andie MacDowell, Melissa Rivera and Tracie Hotchner

The Afternoon Tea Pooch Party drew an amazing crowd of fancy pooches and their elegant people, including celebrities Andie MacDowell, Katie Cleary, Madeleine Wade, and teen actor Lou Wegner (the Dog Film Festival’s Youth Ambassador). All of them in addition to the star of the party – my goddaughter and the Honorary Hostess of the tea party – Melissa Rivers. The Festival is dedicated in loving memory to her mother – my godmother Joan Rivers – and Melissa spoke eloquently about the love and comfort dogs give all of us, as her mother’s dogs did for her, even at the end of her life.

Guests enjoyed getting their photos on the Green Carpet in front of the Step & Repeat and ogling the incredible canine costume designs by Lola Teigland of Couture d’Chiens.

As part of Petco Foundation’s “Think Adoption First” platform, the Lange Foundation had adoptable dogs at the party, at least two of which may have found forever homes as a result!

Patrons who attended the film screenings were encouraged to bring their dogs with them into the theater and boy-oh-boy – did they ever! It seemed like nearly everyone had a dog along for the experience. There were two nearly matching enormous gray and white pit bulls, who were beautifully behaved (even when confronted by yappy smaller dogs!) and were fabulous ambassadors for their breed (as the Majority Project PSA message on screen brought home).  It was so much fun to see them stroll the Green Carpet, and to have their photographs taken in front of the step and repeat. You can imagine that every time a dog barked on screen, the canine audience joined in!

Dog Film Festival - Los Angeles
Photos by Wendy Newell


I am thrilled with how much press the Dog Film Festival has received, including articles in The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Magazine, and the Independent, among many other news outlets. Check out the Dog Film Festival pictures and live-streamed videos on our Facebook page.

There was especially the lovely coverage from The Insider, led by animal welfare advocate Louis Aguirre, who interviewed Melissa at length privately and did some great interviews with myself and Susanne Kogut, the President of the Petco Foundation (who immediately embraced the Festival with a generous grant because she believed in the power of the Festival to promote love and togetherness between dogs and people). and of course he talked with Andie MacDowell, Katie Cleary and Lou Wegner.

Next up, we will be traveling to Seattle on Sunday, June 26. I can’t wait to see you there.
newtraciepic2Tracie began her fascination with dogs and cats by turning her eye as a former investigative reporter on every aspect of living with them, resulting in her encyclopedic resources THE DOG BIBLE: Everything Your Dog Wants You to Know and then the THE CAT BIBLE: Everything Your Cat Expects You to Know. Before long, Tracie was established as a leading pet wellness advocate as her all-encompassing books covered everything from medical issues to behavior, nutrition and environmental enrichment.
Tracie began her career as a radio personality with a live show – DOG TALK® (and Kitties, Too!) – on the local NPR station in the Hamptons, Peconic Public Broadcasting (WPPB) from Southampton, New York (the show is now also carried on the NPR station Robinhood Radio in Connecticut and the Berkshires). DOG TALK® won a Gracie® Award (the radio equivalent of an Oscar) in 2010 as the “Best entertainment and information program on local public radio” and continues weekly after more than 450 continuous shows and 9 years on the air. Tracie’s live weekly call-in show CAT CHAT® was on SiriusXM satellite radio for seven years until the Martha Stewart channel was canceled in 2013.

Tracie lives in Vermont where the Radio Pet Lady Network studio is based, on 13 acres well-used by her all-girl pack – two lovely, lively Weimaraners, Maisie and Wanda, and a Collie-mix, Jazzy.

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