I was recently shopping the wine department at Trader Joe’s when I ran into an acquaintance and her son. They were picking up something to take to a dog’s birthday party, she told me. A few days later, I received an invite to a dog birthday bash myself.
I couldn’t help but wonder: Is this a trend? Well, yes, apparently. I did a Google search and found sites to order dog birthday cakes and party invitations. The Associated Press reports that 30 percent of dog owners bought their pooches birthday gifts in 2006, and 6 percent threw parties.
Unfortunately, I could not attend my friend Margaret’s party for her dog Barkley (the cute one in the picture) but she was nice enough to answer some questions about the whole experience.
CW: Tell me about the party, like how many guests were there, the setting, décor, refreshments, etc.?
Margaret: Kids, seven; canine, five; adults, eleven. In my back yard. Chips and salsa, lemonade, beer. Very basic. I gave all the kids “dog tails” when they got there—basically furry yarn attached to a safety pin that they wore for the party. Activities included pin the tail on the “doggie” which everyone loved. Also, I filled a piñata with dog food, hung it from the tree and let the kids take turns swinging the bat (supervised, of course) at it to break it for the dogs. Then while the dogs ate dog food off the ground and got Frosty Paws, the humans had ice cream and cupcakes, iced with dog paws on them. Then all the kids got a “doggie bag” which was a goodie bag with some toys, Scooby Snacks, etc. in them.
CW: How did you decide to host a birthday party for your dog?
Margaret: I don’t have kids of my own but wanted to do something fun for my friends’ kids, so this seemed like a good idea. I had heard of people doing this and thought they were totally crazy, but I have found if you keep it in context, and don’t get too out of control, it’s really just a great excuse for kids and dogs to get outside and run around and experience something new! I found that while kids go to a lot of people birthday parties, they don’t go to lots of dog birthday parties so it sticks with them. It’s a lasting memory.
CW: Any tips for other would-be dog party throwers?
Margaret: Keep it simple. While I probably spent more than necessary, it can get out of hand very quickly. When the other dogs get there, make sure all dogs are supervised and that they behave before totally trusting them. I consider it to be more for the kids. The dogs will have fun, but they won’t remember it in twenty-four hours. The kids will talk about it for years to come.
Photo courtesy of Margaret Mcallister
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