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The Dog Party

This column first appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post

I have been invited to a Dog’s birthday party and I am livid. I can barely muster the enthusiasm to get dressed up and celebrate a human friend’s birthday these days – now I have to pretend to enjoy socialising with their pets.

The invite cites the dress code as ‘smart’ and includes a gift list. Dog pillows, chew bones and something called a bungee ball. Not only that, it refers to a ‘drinks reception’ and ‘sit down meal’. They were contemplating a buffet but it seems the dog, who regularly buries his own feces, thought it wasn’t sophisticated enough.

Don’t get me wrong; I do love dogs. Had my ex girlfriend not kept ours during the break-up, I’d be the proud owner of one to this day. But never in a million years would I drag my friends through the indignity of attending a birthday party for an animal from which they receive an occasional sniffing and the odd lick. I don’t care – the dog doesn’t care – what’s the point?

It turns out I am wrong. When I mention this on my radio show, I am met with an intense backlash. Beyond a hand full of people agreeing that it’s the height of ridiculousness, my text screen and phone lines are filled with support for pet birthday parties, gift ideas, holiday destinations and even a wedding.

Jay got in touch to say his wife throws a yearly themed party for their Labrador. This year, it was Mexican. How they knew their dog was partial to Latin American festivities is, and will remain, beyond me – but they kitted the garden out with the party accessory every canine craves; a piñata. They invited the local dogs to join in ripping the piñata to pieces. I can only imagine how long they spent getting their nails done in preparation.

I was also introduced to a dog-loving woman called Helen. I feel Helen may love her dog too much. When he hit the milestone age of 10, Helen felt the need to mark the occasion with a bouncy castle and a clown. A clown. Take a moment to think that one through. Even I’m a bit scared of clowns and I’m able to process the reassuring logic that it’s just a fat man with bad breath in makeup. Apparently, the pup wasn’t overly keen and after half an hour of solid barking, he ate the clown’s wig and punctured the bouncy castle. Money well spent, claims Helen, without a hint of sarcasm.

Then there was Anne-Marie. Anne-Marie makes Helen sound completely reasonable. For she was so convinced her Pug was in a loving relationship with the dog next door – based, I imagine, on how often she talked about him over dinner and text him while they were apart – that her and the neighbour agreed to hold a dog wedding; two completely rational human beings, funding and hosting a wedding… for their dogs. They even hired a DJ.

I can’t help feeling my invitation could have be a lot worse. I’ve ironed a shirt and ordered a bungee ball.

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By darrylmorris