Ev­ery dog has its day

Own­ers shell out on birth­day par­ties for pam­pered pooches

Sunday Times - - NEWS - NIVASHNI NAIR

DAISY turned three last week.

Cus­tom in­vi­ta­tions to her party at a venue in Jo­han­nes­burg went out last month.

Her par­ents helped her blow out the can­dles as her guests sang Happy Birth­day.

Her friends played party games, ate cup­cakes and posed for pho­to­graphs be­fore leav­ing with a party pack.

Daisy is a 2.4kg York­shire ter­rier. She is one of hun­dreds of dogs pam­pered by their own­ers who are cel­e­brat­ing their fur ba­bies’ birth­days with cakes, puppy cup­cakes and bis­cuits, as well as event plan­ners, hired venues, pro­fes­sional pho­tog­ra­phy and themed dec­o­ra­tions.

“Think of a chil­dren’s birth­day party. There will be bal­loons, party dec­o­ra­tions, snacks for dogs and hu­mans. The birth­day boy or girl will get a per­son­alised birth­day ban­ner. All the dogs get party hats. Each dog gets a party pack with treats,” Your Dog’s Party plan­ner Gené Viljoen said.

Viljoen plans at least two birth­day par­ties a month.

Par­ties can cost up to R2 500 for a two-hour cel­e­bra­tion.

“Peo­ple are baf­fled why some would want to spend money on their pets, but there is a mar­ket for it.

“De­lay­ing get­ting mar­ried or hav­ing chil­dren is now a trend; a lot of young peo­ple have fur ba­bies be­fore they have real ba­bies and they want to cel­e­brate them,” Viljoen said.

The Puppy Palace Doggy Day­care and Spa in Park­more, Jo­han­nes­burg, had barely opened in Oc­to­ber when a “fur par­ent” in­quired about a birth­day party for his pooch.

“Our first party was an exHappy per­i­ment, but [things] took off af­ter pho­to­graphs and videos were posted on so­cial me­dia,” co-owner Carla Ru­bin said.

Par­ties are over the top — but the pooches de­served it, she said.

“It’s al­most as if the birth­day dogs know it’s their birth­days. They look like they are grinning from ear to ear.”

The liver, chicken, veg­etable, honey and peanut but­ter cake made by Laura Whit­taker of Happy Tails Doggy Day­care has be­come a hit and of­ten own­ers have to hold back their dogs from de­vour­ing it.

“We make these cakes be­cause a lot of peo­ple see their dogs as their chil­dren and want to cel­e­brate their loved one’s life.” Tails gives com­pli­men­tary pooch par­ties to their clients who do­nate dog food or cash to PETS JHB, which look af­ter town­ship dogs. Cape Town ca­nine own­ers cel­e­brate their pooches by sip­ping cham­pagne on dogfriendly beaches while their furry friends run around. “Dog own­ers do send treats for staff and dogs at dog day­care cen­tres, but the trend here is to have a cel­e­bra­tion on the beach be­cause our en­vi­ron­ment is dog friendly,” said Yanic Klue, the founder of atFrits Dog Ho­tel & Day­care Cen­tre. “In Cape Town dogs are cel­e­brated ev­ery day be­cause our dogs are very spoilt.” How­ever, an­i­mals party do check into atFrits — the city’s first five-star dog ho­tel — as dog par­ents fre­quently treat the staff and pooches on their fur baby’s spe­cial day.

Klue cel­e­brates her seven dogs’ birth­days by do­ing char­ity work.

Presheen Ramd­hani, a re­tired teacher from Dur­ban, be­gan cel­e­brat­ing her dogs’ birth­days with home-made cakes and “par­ties” around the din­ner ta­ble to ed­u­cate her chil­dren on the im­por­tance of valu­ing their pet’s life — and has con­tin­ued do­ing so even though her chil­dren are now adults.

This year she posted a photograph of the party on Face­book.

But Pi­eter­mar­itzburg fur­mom Sherlissa Peters’s cel­e­bra­tion of her Yorkie’s first birth­day PUPCAKES: Gary Spencer, left, and Casey Malone with their dog, Bear, at his birth­day party. Dog­gie day­care cen­tres of­ten of­fer birth­day par­ties, cakes and other del­i­ca­cies was crit­i­cised on­line.

“Got bal­loons, a ban­ner, party hats, baked a chicken and ba­con cake, and in­vited the neigh­bour­hood hu­mans and their fur kids,” Peters said.

“He­ston loved ev­ery sec­ond of it, but I was crit­i­cised heav­ily for treat­ing him like a child.

“Be­ing a 35-year-old child­less woman, many as­sume, and have told me, that I am com­pen­sat­ing by try­ing to fill my child­less void with the love I have for He­ston. I do not judge peo­ple when they want to have chil­dren, or how they raise them, there­fore I can­not un­der­stand why I am be­ing judged for choos­ing to love a pure, in­no­cent an­i­mal,” she said.

SPOILT: Zuko Nku­manda with her dog, Shane, at the Puppy Palace Doggy Day­care and Spa

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