Raise the Woof
Professional dog parties elevate canine celebration to surprising heights.
Thursday, September 27, 2007
It is Sammy’s special day. Decked out in a gossamer mother-of-pearl scarf, Sammy is ready to greet eight of his best friends, who have come to a particularly scenic corner of the beautiful Quail Lodge in Carmel Valley to celebrate his birthday. One friend is dressed in a navy and white striped sailor suit. Another wears a designer ballerina outfit complete with shimmering tutu and gold sequins. Frosted hors d’ ouevres and party favors – including spa packages complete with shampoo and aromatherapy treatments – rest on a table. Sammy’s fourth birthday party will be something to remember, though Sammy himself likely won’t remember it for long, because Sammy is a dog.
Dog-centric celebrations are becoming increasingly common on the Monterey Peninsula, where Heidi Borgia has built an entire business out of putting on these tail-wagging celebrations – her Carmel Dog Parties have been bringing dogs together to eat designer doggie treats and sniff behinds for two months. Depending on the number of dogs and people, she says, her parties can cost anywhere from $350 to $750. (This doesn’t include site fees – Quail Lodge Resort and Golf Club Events Manager Erna Clay says the parties run at least $500 plus as much as $50 per person for lunch.)
For Sammy’s party Borgia decorates the tables with identical flowerpots containing fake hedges in the shape of dogs. Each dog receives a stoneware dish for food and another for water, toys of various descriptions, including gift box-shaped squishy toys, and tennis balls monogrammed “SM” for “Sammy Mecino.” For his part, Sammy seems to be having a great time. His only low point comes when his “mommy,” Tiffany Mecino of Redwood City, tries to put a party hat on him for the third time. When Sammy growls, nips and barks, Mecino jumps backward and laughs. Later Mecino successfully puts the hat on Sammy, who rubs it against the ground immediately. Cuppy looks on knowingly, apparently less than pleased with her pink fluffy collar. She puts her chin on the ground and looks around with watery eyes.
Quail Lodge’s Clay has an idea why people are willing to lavish so much on their dogs. “Dogs are like their children. They want to do something nice for their dogs and friends and friend’s dogs,” she says. “It’s mostly women that do it, not men. I think women are more into the party scene. We want to dress up. If we could put them [dogs] in stillettos, we would.”