To Throw A Dog Party

A look at the dog-parent undertaking of the year

By Leslie Phelan

Dog parties happen in my life all the time. But they aren’t necessarily the planned kind – they tend to take place when enough of your friends have pets (or multiple pets!) and you all come together in the same place at the same time to find that the dogs hilariously outnumber the humans. Even when there are mystery poops under the dining table and missing food from coolers, we love it and can’t imagine it any other way.

Doggy birthday parties, though – so popular these days, totally cute, totally Instagram worthy  — but not really my thing.

Not that I won’t attend a party like this and bring my own furry ones along with treats to share and maybe a chew toy for the birthday mutt, but in my 31 years of life (or more specifically, in the 5 or so years that it’s been a thing to throw one’s dog a birthday party), I’ve yet to drink the Kool-Aid and host one.

Photo by Delaney Dawson on Unsplash

This might sound a bit silly but in all honesty, it’s a fact that makes me sometimes wonder if I’m actually defective in some way.

With so many pet parents taking the time to plan lovely gatherings centered around the milestones of their pets (usually dogs … I’ve yet to receive an invite to wish a cat an HBD, but maybe I’m just rollin’ in the wrong circles … ), I often get to thinking that I might possibly be missing that mommy-with-the-mostest gene that seems to motivate such an impulse.

I really do love my dogs though! I cherish the hell outta those floor monkeys, and every day with them is a happy riot. Why don’t I mark the years with a big fete where I invite everyone I know who has a dog?

Honestly, it’s because I know it will be much ado for me: planning, cooking/preparing/buying snacks and cake for dogs AND their people, decorating, cleanup . . . and much ado about nothing for the dogs.

Photo by Sophie Elvis on Unsplash

They will undoubtedly enjoy themselves, but not conceivably more than an average day’s romp in the park with their buddies, or a weekend away with my friends. The effort, for me, just doesn’t seem to tip the enjoyment scales enough to make the whole big production a worthwhile endeavor. Does this make me a lazy parent? Possibly, but I just can’t justify the cause when I know they won’t remember it.

All that said, though, I think I might do it once – maybe just one time to see if Brutus and Isabel notice the difference. And when I do, it won’t just be a party – it will be an afternoon wherein I jam everything hilarious I’ve ever wanted to do with my dogs and my friends’ dogs into one rollicking, memorable extravaganza.

For starters, they’re getting all dressed-up. I don’t want to see any naked fur at this party! And I will have fun and fabulous costumes on hand for doggy guests in attendance. Prizes for the most creatively/hilariously dressed/decorated dog.

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Then we will move to the agility course where dogs will be divided into teams according to size and swiftness. The course will be set up like mini-putt, but with dogs as the balls. In lieu of clubs, their owners will be given sticks with strings tied to sausage bites to dangle in front of them, motivating their race through to the finish line. Some parents will claim not to need the sausage bait — that’s their prerogative – whatever they need to do to get their dog over the little bridges, down the little slides, through the hoops and around the corners and mazes that will make up this labyrinth of fierce canine competition.

Across the finish line there will be stacks of cut canvas, along side of little plates of (vegan) paint for them to trot over, leaving lasting impressions on the fabric that I will later turn into place-mats for my guests’ doggy bowls. Trophies will be awarded in each division, ‘cause when was the last time you and your dog were able to take home a trophy? Everyone loves a #winner.

Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

After the dogs and the humans all enjoy their respective cakes (there’s no getting around that one) there will be time for everyone to pose for pics with their colorful pets in the photo booth I will construct, complete with funny hats and bow ties and stick-on mustaches, taken on Polaroid instant film so they can take the fridge-worthy mementos home in their loot bags. What a day it will be.

…  But I’m getting tired just thinking about it all, so I’ll report back (if and when) it happens.