Every dog has its day, they say. Hundreds had theirs Saturday when they got the chance to frolic on the lush grounds of Old Westbury Gardens.
Canines large and small played and panted while their owners proudly snapped photos during the gardens’ annual spring Dog Days event.
Breeds ranged from ankle-high chihuahuas to hulking St. Bernards — all clamoring to say hello.
“You don’t have much to worry about when you are top of the food chain,” Gary Bourbeau, of Middle Island, joked as small dogs wandered around the feet of his three Irish wolfhounds.
Dogs aren’t normally allowed inside the gates, but twice a year staff set up special weekends for dog owners and their leashed pooches to visit, said Vincent Kish, spokesman for the nonprofit historic estate.
“These things are so popular,” he said. “It’s usually the first nice day of spring, and people have ants in their pants and cabin fever, and want to get out.”
The gates opened at 10 a.m. and the dog festival, where local vendors and groups for dogs set up information booths, began an hour later. By noon, the parking lot was packed with more than 400 cars, officials said.
Sylvia Zhou, of Great Neck, said her two dogs surprised some attendees. Bella and Dory are Shiba Inus, a Japanese breed.
“A lot of people didn’t know what a Shiba was; they thought it was a fox,” she said, laughing.
William Sparks and Richard Giotta, of Merrick, brought Hugo, their 5-year-old Norwich terrier. Hugo competes in dog shows, but Sparks said they wanted to give him a day of fun, as they do every year.
“He’s a champion, but he’s here as a family dog to enjoy the chance to walk around the gardens,” Sparks said, motioning to Hugo, lounging contentedly in the shade behind Westbury House.
Robert McLean, of Bethpage, said he comes every year to give some of his eight dogs a fun outing and marvel at the different breeds.
Sporting an orange T-shirt that read “Yes, I really do need all these dogs,” he and friend Margaret Southard, of Wantagh, walked four greyhounds — Nikki, Bart, Trixie and J.C. — through the gardens.
“It’s good for them and good for us, because we’re crazy dog people,” McClean said.