By Kathy El-Messidi, Guest writer and blogger
Be it a birthday, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or even National Dog Day, celebrating with your pooch can often be more fun than celebrating alone, and sometimes can be more fun than celebrating with another human being. It’s even more fun if your dog thinks it's human. That is not essential, but it helps.
Here are some suggestions for making it the best day of your dog’s life:
- Bake him a cake. After all, you knew he was coming or at least you suspected that he wasn’t going anywhere else. Don’t give him a sugar-laden human birthday cake. Don’t eat his cake, either. Get one specially prepared at a dog-themed bakery. Or -- no excuses – make it yourself ahead of time. Here’s a great recipe for cake:
Spoiled Dog Birthday Cake
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup peanut butter
Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine flour and baking soda. In a separate bowl mix together vegetable oil, peanut butter, applesauce and pumpkin puree. Once combined, mix in egg and mix until combined. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir until combined. Pour mixture into an 8" round pan (a square pan can also be used) that has been greased with oil. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean and the cake springs back when pressed lightly. Allow to cool on a wire rack prior to removing from pan. After cooling, add frosting if desired.
- Avoid fireworks. If you can’t leave town for the countryside to spare him the total meltdown, turn up the volume on the stereo. Recommended songs for dogs that will drown out the sound of explosions include:
- YouTube audio called “15 HOURS of Deep Separation Anxiety Music for Dog Relaxation!” and
- “I Love My Dog,” by Cat Stevens, or
- "Seamus the Dog," by Pink Floyd (complete with an authentic dog chorus).
Most importantly, select dog invitees based not just on their social acceptability and breeding, but on your dog’s former ability to meet and mingle with them. Choose, for example, his favorite canine friends from the dog park or the neighborhood, but do not expect him to share his special birthday cake with them. Provide treat bags for each and every dog attending or carefully space food items between dogs.
- Forget the “Happy Birthday” or “Merry Christmas” signs. Don’t expect your dog to read by a really young age as you expected your children to do. At all costs, avoid using balloons. Most dogs fear the sight and sound of them popping. Scared dogs tend to drool, bark, tremble, cower, destroy things and become aggressive – not the behavior that makes for a good party… at least among dogs. Read more...
Instead, decorate with lots of looping toilet paper that he will enjoy tearing down the next time you leave him alone in the house. Loop it low enough so it is within reach of his paws. Be sure to ask him to bunch it up next to the toilet paper roll in the bathroom so the humans can use it afterwards. Waste not, want not (especially during a pandemic). You might casually toss in a few old slippers or shoes before you donate them to Goodwill. Most dogs will appreciate the casual ambiance these create.
- Play games. And I don’t just mean fetch. That gets boring for both of you after a while. How about a doggie rendition of musical chairs? Simply have dog parents leash their charges and walk in a circle to music. Hopefully, humans drinking alcohol at this party will not make this difficult. When the music stops, all the pups are told to 'sit'. The last one to get his butt to the ground is OUT! Repeat until only the last winning hound remains seated. For other games, see, “Fun Dog Party Games.”
- Give a present or two, perhaps from PawlieShop. Toys and bones or treats are always most popular gifts for dogs to open. Clothes, less so. Be sure to let him open it; don’t do it yourself. Wrap it well in the first place so it is a challenge for him to open. Preferably, it includes an edible reward that he can smell through the layers of wrapping paper as an incentive for his effort. Or it could include a compelling sound like a rubber chicken's squawk or bell ringing. Hint: Give him a small start by ripping a little from one edge of the wrapper, or shaking and squeaking it to get his attention.
For the Hindu dogs, a trip to Nepal for the five-day Nepalese Hindu festival of Tihar would be an especially appropriate treat. The second day, known as Kukur Tihar or "Day of the Dogs," canines are blessed with a Tika, a red mark applied to their forehead, and given flower garlands and food. If you can't travel safely right now, the blessing may still be possible.