Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Pet Lovers Hosting Lavish Dog Parties

“Bark Mitzvah”? “Yappy Birthday”? “Paw-parazzi Red Carpet Celebration”?

Children are no longer the only ones being lavished with expensive birthday parties. Dog owners are also marking their dog’s special day with celebrations. Women in particular seem to want to do something truly special to celebrate the occasion.

Dogs in cities like New York, Vancouver and L.A. are celebrating their birthdays with everything from multi-colored balloons, dog-friendly cakes made of peanut butter, yogurt and carob, specialty drinks like Prosecco and even miniature cocktail hot dogs for their canine guests!

Specialty dog bakeries like Three Dog Bakery in Vancouver and Port Moody cater to pooches’ special day with custom decorated cakes, hors d’oeuvres and goodies that are absolutely chic, but pet edible only! They have a fabulous selection of merchandise to make your dogs’ day truly over-the-top special from “Pawty Hats” with Maribou trim to bone shaped candles for the cake.

Not all dog owners are ready to meet the challenges of holding a party for their pooch at home though and this is mainly because the “guests” can be unpredictable! A New York-based woman, has held two birthday parties for her three-year-old Bichon Frise, Ernie, including last year’s “Bark Mitzvah.”

“In dog years,” she explained, “Ernie turned 13.”

She recently celebrated her pet’s third birthday at a dog-friendly watering hole, “Drop Off Service,” in Manhattan’s East Village. The birthday dog, along with eight doggy guests, spent a Sunday afternoon lapping up homemade “pup cakes” made of oats, carrots and cream cheese, while beer and hors d'oeuvres were served to their owners. As Ernie and his dog pals donned birthday hats and received gift bags and doggie Snuggies, or blankets, their human companions sang “Happy Birthday.”

Many dog owners search for a venue that will not only cater to their human friends, but more importantly, allow dogs on the premises to create an extravaganza that will honor their pet and be enjoyable for all guests: both the two and four-legged variety!

Betty Wong, owner of Buttercup’s Pawtisserie, a dog bakery in Brooklyn specializing in natural dog treats, has seen a sharp increase in the number of people throwing birthday parties for their dogs.

“Originally, we opened the bakery because I wanted to give my finicky eating dog, Buttercup, some healthy menu choices,” Wong explained. “We’ve seen a rise in the number of birthday cake orders during the past few years, and the numbers are steadily growing.”

If organizing a pet birthday bash seems daunting, Dorothy Moore can help. In 2005, Moore opened The Dining Dog Cafe in Edmonds, Washington, featuring a pet-friendly restaurant for dogs and their owners. Complete with white tablecloths, soft music and chandeliers, doggie birthday parties are popular at the restaurant.

Moore is also a party planner for canines. She organized about 100 dog parties last year, ranging in price from $100 to $500, including high-end soirees in which owners rent limos for their dogs and guests. A princess theme is the most popular, with the dogs donning tiaras at an event featuring all-pink decorations.

A groomer by trade, Moore believes the socialization that naturally occurs during dog parties is good for the pets and their owners. “Not only do the dogs love the attention, but their owners also seem to get a lot out of the parties,” Moore said. “Some people and dogs may appear shy at first, but something about the sheer joy of the event brings them out of their shell.”

“The opportunity for dogs to interact with each other, for whatever excuse, enables fulfillment of a basic biological need,” says Dr. Nicholas Dodman, director of the Animal Behavior Clinic at The Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Boston.

For dog party enthusiasts, it’s never too early to begin planning the next party. I understand how many dog owners feel. Our Love on a Leash ~ Party with Your Pooch Doggy Evening and Fundraiser in 2009 saw 130 dog lovers and their pooches fill The Smoking Dog Restaurant in Kitsilano during a fun-filled “Red Carpet Night” that raised more than $2,500 for S.A.I.N.T.S Rescue Organization.

I am currently pondering plans for another such evening this coming September. On September 30th my Bichon Frise gal, Casey Jane, turns 16. That’s almost 80 in human years. I think that’s reason enough to celebrate!

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