How to Celebrate Your Dog’s Birthday

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My two puppies, Charlie Brown, and his brother, Mini-Cooper (the three-legged wonder), were born on 11/11/11. Pretty cool, right? Thanks to a remarkable woman who fostered these little babies along with their six brothers and sisters, and their mama, I’ve managed to stay in touch with all of the other adopters throughout this first year. We’re planning a tentative puppy reunion to celebrate their first birthday.

So far, we have two ideas: One, meet on the beach on Saturday, or Sunday, let the dogs romp, take some photos and have a good time. Weather permitting, of course. Two, everyone comes to my house to take advantage of my fenced-in yard. This option does present some issues such as parking, entertaining and refreshments, use of bathroom for humans, and putting the cats in a safe place (imagine the cats thinking “How did they multiply?” when they see all the look-alike dogs).

About a month ago, I sent out an email to all the adoptive parents asking if anyone would be interested in a first-birthday celebration. Only three of the seven adoptive pet parents seemed interested. One of the three interested pet parents has moved out of state, too far away to join us, but has become “friends” on Facebook, and we stay in touch quite frequently. Her pup looks exactly like Charlie Brown. The other two are ready to drive just about anywhere to make this happen (as am I). The others (including the adopter of the mama dog, Kate) have been silent. Former foster-mom is pretty much up for anything.

Most dog lovers probably don’t get the chance to remain in contact with the adopters of the original litter of puppies their dog came from, especially (as in our case) when they are mixed-breed “mutts.” But if you are so lucky, what a wonderful opportunity for some photos and a play date to burn off excess energy (assuming every one of the pups is as successfully socialized as mine, of course).

As long as your dog is well-socialized, and your family doesn’t mind putting up with a pack of dogs for a couple of hours, you, too can celebrate your dog’s birthday with a play date at your home. The easiest option is in your own back yard, and hopefully it is fenced in. Invite your dog’s favorite canine friends, have the guests bring presents (toys or treats are best), serve refreshments for both humans and dogs (no chocolate for dogs, please!) and break out the cameras. Let the dogs play in the yard before eating, and don’t over-feed, just a couple of small treats for each dog will suffice. Make sure plenty of tennis balls are available, as long as none of the dogs will fight or get possessive over the toys. Keep bowls of water freshly topped up. Keep the event short, one hour, two at the most.

Not up for hosting people at your house? As an alternative, get everyone together at a dog park or other safe location where the dogs can romp and play for a short time, and don’t bring any presents or worry about food or refreshments for anyone. Bring plenty of water to cool off the dogs, and make sure leashes are handy and dogs are fully identifiable with info tags on their collars.

If your dog does not play well with others, but you still want to celebrate his big day, don’t worry, you and your human pack can still have a great time commemorating your dog’s birthday. Grab a leash and take your pup on a nice walk either alone, or with the family. Take Puppy for a ride in the car (most dogs love this!) to nowhere special. Buy some new toys and a few special treats, put a birthday hat on his head, and take some photos.

Above all, be safe, have a great time, and take lots of pictures.  After your guests have gone home, snuggle with your dog while watching a dog-themed movie or TV show, or reading a dog-themed book.

Even if you skip commemorating your dog’s birthday, he won’t mind. Dogs don’t pay attention to the calendar!

K.S. Mueller is a travel executive living in Massachusetts who writes essays about dogs, cats and other topics in her spare time. Check out her web sites:; and Follow K.S.Mueller on Facebook and Twitter.

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