Girl in a Pumpkin Patch Photo Is Now Hosting Dog Costume Parties

When Helga AuYeung’s parents immigrated to Canada from Hong Kong, Halloween was “a weird ritual that they didn’t understand,” she says. But they made sure their kids enjoyed the vacation regardless, with annual sleight of hand tricks and even a trip to a pumpkin patch. This photo, published in the Star in 1990, was taken at Stroud’s Farm in Pickering. “This is my cousin Ava and me,” AuYeung (right) says. “My mother took us to choose a pumpkin.”

Today, AuYeung runs a pet care center called Liberty Pooch, in Liberty Village, and often takes her clients (and their humans) on fall outings to apple orchards and pumpkin patch. She also hosts an annual Halloween costume party. “Some of the most creative costumes,” she says, “(include) a dog named Tim dressed as a box of Timbits. And then there was the sheer cuteness of one of our golden retriever puppies dressed as a sumo – he was already quite stocky.

When AuYeung was a child, his Halloween costumes were quite modest. “We didn’t have a lot of money, so I remember for the first few years I recycled the same witch costume over and over again,” she says. “As I got a little older, I used my imagination and my mom’s makeup to turn it into other costumes.”

Of course, as any kid in the freezing city of Toronto well knows, almost every Halloween she had to wear a winter coat over her costume. “You could barely see how we were dressed,” she said, “but we didn’t care.

“I remember the excitement as we waited for it to get just that little bit darker outside so we could start our sleight of hand,” she adds. “We would come home and sort our sweets – prioritizing crisps, chocolate and gum. Arugula, candy corn and caramels were at the bottom of the list. I hid my favorites from my brother – who is six years older – because he stole them all.

A touching bonus to the Halloween transport, AuYeung says, stuck with his Canadian classmates in the days that followed. “My parents never made us snacks for playtime, but after Halloween I would have them too.” She still remembers the pride she felt because, she says, “I was now like everyone else.”

AuYeung went on to pursue a successful career in tech, but found herself wanting to spend more time with her family and friends (“furry and otherwise,” she says). After losing six family members in one year, AuYeung made a major change. Her beloved cousin Michele asked AuYeung to take care of her puppy, Poyo, before Michele died of cancer. Long walks with Poyo helped AuYeung through her grief and inspired her to start a dog walking business with her partner, Robert Faichney.

“We (Liberty Pooch) hold several events throughout the year, and even when we are not holding events, we dress the dogs on all special occasions, such as Valentine’s Day, Easter and Saint -Patrick.” AuYeung said. “Perhaps because of my humble beginnings and being a first-generation Canadian who always wanted to fit in, I love to celebrate every holiday.”

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