“It’s My Party and I’ll Bark If I Want To!”
Milwaukee and many of its apartment communities have become more pet friendly in recent years. Pets provide us with constant companionship, crazy antics to share on social media, and an ever-flowing fountain of love — so, the least we can do is celebrate the impact they have had on our lives. I will be honest, after raising kids and grandkids we have seen a whole menagerie of critters make our home theirs. Some for decades, others not so long. As our children grew and moved out on their own, they took with them the cats, tortoises, birds, snakes, and rodents which were their companions. Now our black lab, Charlie, is our sole remaining fur baby. So, I will focus today’s missive on celebrating your pup’s birthday. A dog birthday party can be celebrated in many creative ways n our city and in your home without breaking the bank, (think: your dog, a party hat, dog treat pup-cakes, chew toys, and long walks on new trails). With a little imagination, you can make this a day to remember for your furry friend.
1. Special Birthday Morning Treats
Let’s start the day out on the right foot (or paw!) It seems that every pet store you go into these days has racks and shelves full of specially made do treats. The treats come in a wide variety of shapes and flavors. Charlie’s favorite is the salmon-flavored cookies (though it gives him bad breath!). You can also make breakfast special with the addition of a tablespoon of peanut butter. If you don’t have an elaborate birthday party planned for your fuzzy buddy and all of his or her furry friends, morning is also a great time to break out all of the presents. Some great gift ideas are:
- a luxury dog bed
- a dog fountain
- treat shooter
- and don’t forget squeakers!
2. A Walk in the Park
Spring is in the air and if your pup celebrates its birthday during the spring, summer, or fall, you can celebrate in an outdoor dog park. There are safe and fun spaces to find a wilderness adventure for the two of you. A trip to frolic in the park can be the highlight of your dog’s day – if you plan ahead. Unfamiliar parks may have different rules than the ones you regularly visit. Check the park’s website so you are aware of any required permits, possible breed restrictions, and appropriate park behavior. The websites will normally inform you whether pet waste stations or water fountains are available. Even if the site states there are provisions for your pup, it is still a good idea to be prepared and pack along the water, poop bags, and leashes. These are the guidelines for the parks listed in Milwaukee County (Waukesha County differs in fees and times open to the public):
- Dog Parks are open from 5 a.m. – 10 p.m., seven days a week and year-round
- You must have your dog licensed and carry proof of their rabies vaccination
- Single-visit dog park permit passes are $5 per dog, annual passes are $15-35.
There’s a dog park within walking distance:
- Bay View Dog Exercise Area - 900 E. Lincoln Avenue, Milwaukee
One of the smaller parks on this list the Bay View Dog Exercise Area is considered a hidden jewel by local residents and their dogs.
- Currie Park Dog Exercise Area - 3535 N. Mayfair Road, Wauwatosa
Currie Park provides a 10-acre space for large dogs and a 1.5-acre space for smaller pups, every dog can run free!
- Estabrook Park Dog Exercise Area - 4400 N. Estabrook Drive, Milwaukee
These three acres of fully fenced-in property are the perfect place for dogs to let loose.
- Granville Dog Exercise Area - 11718 W. Good Hope Place, Milwaukee
Granville has wooded trails and grassy hills on the shores of the Menomonee River.
- Lakeshore State Park - 500 N. Harbor Drive, Milwaukee
Considered the most beautiful of Milwaukee's parks, Lakeshore State Park is located behind the Henry Maier Festival Park along the shore of Lake Michigan.
- Minooka Park Dog Exercise Area - 1927 E. Sunset Drive, Waukesha
Minooka Park is 19 acres of fenced, wide-open spaces making it a doggie wonderland. You need a Daily Permit ($6) or Annual Park Sticker ($35) from Waukesha County to enter. Dogs must be licensed with current vaccination records and should wear identification tags.
- Mitchel Park Off-Leash Dog Area - 19900 River Road, Brookfield
Mitchell Park is full of lush grassy areas, a creek for splashing, and 14 fenced acres, split into gated areas for small and large dogs.
- Roverwest Dog Exercise Area - 3243 N. Weil Street, Milwaukee
Roverwest is a large and grassy space for dogs. There are plenty of benches available for you to take it easy while you watch your dog play.
- Runway Dog Exercise Area - 1214 E. Rawson Avenue, Oak Creek
Runway is the biggest dog park in Milwaukee County, the park even has agility equipment for dogs to practice and show off their moves.
- Warnimont Dog Exercise Area - 6100 S. Lake Drive, Cudahy
Warnimont’s five acres of fenced-in space will be a hit with any dog who loves adventuring on wooded trails!
3. A Day at the Spa
Community Bark pet grooming centers are located in Bayside and Bay View. Considered the closest Milwaukee has to a full-service dog spa, with a dog-loving staff who will wash your pup or teach you the techniques to wash them yourself. They also offer a full groom, with a haircut if need be. But the heart of Community Bark is their Barker Lounge, a space for dogs and owners to make new friends and for events like dog birthday parties.
4. A Night on the Town
There are quite a few dog-friendly places to spend the evening with your pooch on this special day. A quick sample of local furry color include:
- The Kimpton Journeyman Hotel - 310 E. Chicago St., Milwaukee (Third Ward)
Unlike most pet-friendly hotels, this property does not charge a pet fee and does not restrict larger dogs. Dog beds, food and water dishes are provided are welcome to join you in the outdoor dining area at Tre Rivali. You furbaby will be greeted upon arrival with a healthy snack and his or her name will be written on the lobby’s chalkboard.
- Camp Bar Wauwatosa - 6600 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa
Head to the North Woods to tip back a brew while your furry buddy takes in all the sights and scents at this woodsy bar setting in Tosa. There is plenty of outdoor seating so you can chill with your dog.
- Colectivo Coffee (Lakefront location) - 1701 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee (East Side)
Located across the street from McKinley Marina, the outdoor seating area sprawls across the lawn, featuring a mix of tables/chairs and benches.
- Riverwalk (Third Ward) - Downtown Milwaukee, Third Ward
The Third Ward neighborhood is where three rivers converge: the Milwaukee, Menomonee, and Kinnickinnic rivers. With two miles of pedestrian walkways, you can take in the city from this unique point of view, stopping at dog welcoming restaurants, cafes, and shops along the way--or simply experiencing an urban hike along the river.
5. Finish Out the Day with Homemade Pupcakes
The internet is overflowing with pupcake (a.k.a. dog cupcake) recipes to suit every dog’s taste. Peanut butter, blueberry, pumpkin, and more — if your dog celebrates most enthusiastically with their mouth, this may be the birthday option for you. Hit the easy button with a boxed cake mix designed just for dogs. You can order a custom dog birthday cake online at any of the Pet Bakeries specializing in pet-friendly pastries. You can even find ice cream treats in dog appetizing flavors like peanut butter, vanilla, salmon, and liver!
6. Don’t Forget the Selfies
Let’s be honest, it’s really all about how many “likes” and reactions to the picture you share on social media that matters (just kidding) — and, of course, the love you have for your beastie buddy! While your dog may not fully understand the fact that his gorgeous face has made him a YouTube sensation with millions of followers, you — and his followers — definitely will. They’re going to want pics, so why share the events of the day for posterity?
As pet parents, we want to make every day a special one for our canine buds. There’s no doubt about it—we’re loving all the creative ways dog owners are celebrating man’s best friend. So, happy birthday to all the dogs out there! Feel free to celebrate seven times a year.