Bells, Balls And Beer

There's always something pet-centric going on around you

There is more to summer than cookouts and fireworks. Did you know June, July, September and August are the four most popular months (in that order) for weddings? And more and more, folks are opting to include favorite pets in their special day. Not a problem, say animal trainers and wedding planners, as long as you plan ahead and keep your pet's needs and safety in mind along with the comfort of your guests.

  1. Determine what role your pet will play in the ceremony. Will it be to carry the rings, pull a cart with the flower girl in it (obviously a large dog or a pony needed for this one), greet the arriving guests or simply stand by your side as you say "I do?" Clearly defining their role will help you avoid utter chaos.
  2. Make sure the venue is pet-friendly. Some venues will not allow pets, not even very small dogs. 
  3. If your pet is going to wear attire for the event, it is always best to do several practice rehearsals with them dressed to see how well they tolerate it and to nip any potential wardrobe malfunctions in the bud.
  4. Be sensitive to your guests. You may have some folks with allergies or phobias, so make sure it is noted in the invitation your pet will be participating.
  5. Have a petsitter or designated person who is responsible for the pet throughout the entire event. The bride and groom will be far too busy to keep tabs on their furry friend. This includes making sure there are water breaks and potty breaks.
  6. Alert the photographer in advance as pet photography is a whole other ball of wax and takes a different approach than just your basic wedding photography.
  7. Always expect the unexpected! A sense of humor is probably a good accessory to bring with you. 

Spay and Neuter Your Pet

Have you ever heard the saying, "It takes balls to neuter your dog!"?  Me neither, but it is a true statement. With an estimated 6 million to 8 million homeless dogs and cats entering shelters in the U.S. every year, there is a darn good argument for spaying and neutering your family pet.

Spaying and neutering are routine, affordable surgeries that can prevent thousands of animals from being born, only to suffer and struggle to survive on the streets or be euthanized in animal shelters for lack of a loving home. And the statistics are staggering! According to PETA, just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years. In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce a whopping 370,000 kittens.

There are low cost, affordable spay/neuter programs across the country and right here in our backyard, so there are no excuses not to get it done. In fact, Spay Inc., a program of the SPCA of Northern Virginia, provides discounted spay and neuter referrals for dogs and cats in Northern Virginia. They are not a veterinary clinic, but they offer discounted spay/neuter surgeries through a network of participating animal hospitals. 

The good news is, everyone qualifies to participate in the Spay Inc. discounted program because there are no income or residency requirements. If you don't live in the Northern Virginia area and need information about spay/neuter programs in your city or state, Spay Inc. provides this link with for additional resources.

Doggie Brew

What could possibly go better with summertime than a frosty, cold beer? Well, apparently man's best friend is discovering this formerly humans-only pastime. Yep, welcome to Bowser Beer, a doggie brew concocted by a Seattle, Wash., woman who was looking for a good accompaniment to her peanut butter doggie pretzels. Worried about the legal drinking age in dog years? Fear not, this dog-friendly brewski is non-alcoholic. Foregoing any hops, which are toxic to dogs, Bowser Beer is a non-carbonated mixture of meat-broth and malt barley, with glucosamine added for joint health.

Bowser Beer's "Beefy Brown Ale" is now available at dog-oriented businesses in 42 states, including Virginia, and also comes in a chicken-flavored variety called Cock-a-Doodle-Brew. The beer has taken off internationally, too, with a special edition selling in the pet section of London's Harrods department store. Locally you can find Bowser Beer at the Vienna Pet Spaw on Church Street. 


Robin Baxter July 16, 2012 at 05:06 PM
Probably good to add, in case someone is already nuts enough to have their dog at their wedding: Don't give out puppies as party favors (a la "The Bridesmaids")!
Linda July 17, 2012 at 07:04 PM
The Bowser Beer sounds rather interesting. I bet my dogs would love it. One of my pooches does not seem to want to drink much water; either that, or I never catch her in the act of drinking. And in this summer's heat, I worry that she is not getting enough hydration. She might be more inclined to imbibe if it was a Bowser Beer!
Robert F. Dorr July 18, 2012 at 10:18 AM
At the wedding, in addition to a sense of humor, it might be a plan to bring a few plastic bags. A good type of plastic bag is the one in which a once-great newspaper arrives on our driveway every morning. My 65-pound Labrador retriever Autumn, who talks to me when no one else is around, says she wants to try Bowser Beer. She was explaining why when another person came into the room, so she shifted to: "Woof!"


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