Sunday, August 6, 2017

A Few Things To Consider When Hosting A Pup Party

I was in my early 30's when I attended my first doggy birthday party. Neighbor. Friend. I had one furry kid. They had 2. All three pups got along with no issues. Often times, we opened the gate separating the two fenced in yards. Always supervised. The dogs enjoyed playtime and, during the summer months, dips in the doggy pool.

That summer, my neighbor friend decided to host a doggy birthday party. Adults, kids, and pups were invited. The afternoon included swimming complete with a doggy pool and human pool, a cookout, and games. I went early to help out with setting up and food prep.  It was then I learned there would be close to a dozen dogs attending.


My furry kid was not included in that number. Although she interacted exceptionally well with my friend's dogs, I was uncertain how she'd be with other dogs.

To say the very least, that afternoon's festivities were a disaster. Too many dogs. Too many human kids. Too much food within reach. All unsupervised.

Then, it happened.

One of the human kids threw a half eaten cheeseburger on the ground. A fight broke out between several pups. I was in the middle. A few scratches, bites and puncture wounds later, I told my neighbor friend she needed to enforce a few ground rules. A few disgruntled took their pups home. A few pups were put in my yard. Two were leashed. The food was put up out of reach. Supervision became a priority.

Since then, I've avoided most pup parties. The ones I will attend are small, the few dogs attending know each other and there is adequate supervision. Even then, we don't bring our kids. Too much risk.

The parties I avoid are hosted by those who are more concerned about "keeping up with the Jones" than with the well-being and safety of those attending. They're too busy picking out an exquisite cake, creating an impressive menu, and slathering the "everything between" with bells and whistles.

Now don't get me wrong. Dogs are family. They're our kids. Birthdays and adoption anniversaries are a reason to celebrate. Lisa and I celebrate our kid's adoption anniversaries. However, a tail-wagging good time can turn into a canine catastrophe within a split second. When that happens, the festivities spiral downward and are, often times, irreversible.

While we can't completely avoid the unpredictable, the risk of mishaps could be greatly reduced if more thought was put into taking precautionary measures rather than puff pastry appetizers.

A few things to consider...

1. The guest list. Treat your pup party guest list as you would a wedding guest list. Seriously. After your list is complete look for, what Robert Fulghum refers to as, "land mines." What this boils down to are "possible explosive disasters waiting to happen" amid your guest list. If Aunt Peggy's dog doesn't like Aunt Bertha's dog and all four are have a "land mine." You should not ignore this.

2. A doggy birthday party is not an ideal environment for a meet and greet. In fact, inviting pups who don't know each other, and introducing them at your party, could be a possible "land mine" and should be avoided. Dogs have an entirely different system when it comes to "meeting" one another. It's not like us humans where you introduce one to the other, they shake hands, grab a drink and all is said and done. There's a whole other method for a canine meet and greets. All you need to know, for now, is your yard and the party is not the time or place.

3. Are you inviting human kids as well? You're going to have a yard with furry kids and human kids running around. You'd like to think the adults are closely supervising their pooches and children, but, that's not always the case. As with the doggy birthday party, I attended in my early 30's, all it took was a young child throwing a partial cheeseburger on the ground for an altercation to erupt. While I was in the right place at the right time, that's not always the case. Bolting across the yard in a split second is not humanly possible.

4. Set ground rules. It's your home. Your yard. You're responsible if something should happen. When a guest isn't supervising their pup or human kid, speak up. Would you prefer that table scraps not be doled out freely to the begging pooches? Is Franny's Fido causing a ruckus and appears agitated by all the activity? Say something. It's your right and responsibility.

5. What's a party without food, right? While you want to please the palate of both humans and pups, it's always a good idea to keep the menu friendly for all to prevent accidents from happening. Sure, you put the double chocolate cookies out of canine reach, however, little Joey grabbed one while mommy wasn't looking and is now feeding it to Fido. There's a world of scrumptious eats that are both human and pup friendly. Opt for those.

Your furry kid's special day should be fun and one that all of you will remember. Opting to have a party with other humans and pups involved can go relatively smooth if you plan well, make safety and the well being of all guests a priority and keep it simple and sweet.

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