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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Parties for pets a growing trend

By Dr. Marty Becker
Knight Ridder News Service

Last year, in the United States, more than 700,000 pets enjoyed being the life of a party thrown in their honor.

Labrador retriever owner Tyler Hurst, 26, of Phoenix, liked the idea after visiting a neighbor's son's first birthday party.

"I don't have a child yet. My family pretty much consists of Tiny Toons (the dog) and me," says Hurst. "I didn't want to miss out on all the fun stuff so I decided to have a birthday party for him."

"Dogs aren't the only ones having fun. Dog parties unleash the true party animal in everyone," says Arden Moore, pet expert and author of "Dog Parties: How to Party With Your Pup."

"Snicker if you will, but deep down inside, you know that you would rather attend a dog party than a boring candle party. At dog parties, you don't have to worry about wearing the right clothes or making the right small talk. Dogs take center stage and you get to revel in the moment."

And pets aren't the only ones to benefit. Pet product manufacturers with double digit increases in sales are smiling too.

If you host a pet party, Paws For a Treat at www.gooddogexpress.com offer a Pooch Party Pack containing invitations, hats, scarves, bone candles, toys and paw print balloons. There are "Birthday Dog" scarves and coordinating hats for dogs and humans in all sizes. A plush toy birthday present or party favor is included in the pack.

Moore offers these tips to ensure a successful bow-wow bash:

  • Pick the right place. Host a small party inside your home if you can dog-proofed an area, like the living room. For outdoor parties, make sure the site has an enclosure to keep dogs from fleeing the party scene. Check with park officials for necessary permits if you choose a park.

  • Select the right guests. If your best friend has an aggressive dog, then invite her alone. Let her know it's for the safety of the guests and make sure she takes home treats for her dog.

  • Set a time limit. The best dog parties have a firm start and stop time and don't last more than two hours. Owners are present for the party and keep their dogs on leashes until the host instructs them.

  • Offer safe treats and prizes. Ask guests in advance if their dogs have any food allergies. You can make your own treats or order canine-friendly cakes and other goodies at doggy bakeries. Make sure every canine guest receives parting gifts.

    Your dog has always been there for you, to listen to your problems and even to help you clean up after you drop something on the floor. Why not do something to show how much you love and appreciate him?

    Dr. Marty Becker is the veterinary contributor to "Good Morning America" and hosts "Top Vets Talk Pets" on www.healthradionetwork.com. He is also coauthor of "Chicken Soup For The Horse Lover's Soul."