For a certain subset of pets in New York City, going out doesn’t mean just going out for a walk. It means attending pet parties and even, yes, dog weddings. But as with human social events, the pressure to impress can make even the most mellow creature want to curl up and take a nap.
Last year, fashionistas and society folks congregated in Chelsea to witness Instagram sensation Toast wed Amanda Hearst’s Dachshund-Chihuahua mix, Finn. Toast is a King Charles spaniel belonging to Josh Ostrovsky, a pop culture icon (aka “The Fat Jew”), and his (soon-to-be ex-) wife, Katie Sturino, a PR maven-turned-fashion blogger. The festivities, held at the Highline Hotel, raised funds for survivors of puppy mills. The over-the-top fete also generated plenty of media attention.
It wasn’t just a one-off thing. Although puppy parties aren’t exactly new, they are increasing in both frequency and opulence. According to the most recent American Pet Products Association’s National Pet Owners Survey, 7 percent of dog owners hold parties for their canines.
“Elaborate, over-the-top themed parties
are more common, so it’s harder
to impress guests.”
—Grace Forster, “Doggie Moms”
Pet party planners in New York are seeing a jump in business too. Hayley Mehalco, founder of Puppy Parties NYC, said business has doubled in the past two years. Biscuits and Bath’s Sutton Place manager, Marissa Owens, is also hosting more parties. “We normally have one event per week, but recently we had two dog parties on the same day,” she explained.
Kerry Brown, co-owner of the Chelsea-based swanky D Pet Hotels, which provides high-end boarding and other services for dogs, has “hosted dog weddings, fashion shows and birthday parties, and even half birthdays,” she said. Some of the events have close to 200 guests, and Brown said some dogs have “hundreds of thousands of followers on social media.”
One party was an Olympics-themed event with a balance beam, treadmill, hurdles and diving. “We brought in a blow-up swimming pool for that one,” she said.
Brown often enlists the assistance of Mehalco to plan luxe events that include sketch artists, photo booths and pet photographers. At a fashion-themed party, a dog named Chanel walked the red carpet and was presented with a real mink coat by her humans.
Grace Forster has been throwing parties for her dogs since 1992. “My dogs and I starred in a TV reality series called ‘Doggie Moms,’” she said. One episode highlighted the lavish beach bash she threw for her dog Rosie.
Forster’s first pet party featured refreshments served by a “French” maid. “Since then, elaborate over-the-top themed parties are more common, so it’s harder to impress guests,” lamented Forster.
The most memorable affair Forster recalls attending was the “Pet Wedding of the Century,” held at Jumeirah Essex House several years ago. It united Baby Hope Diamond, a teacup-size Coton de Tulear, and a poodle named Chilly Pasternak. The event broke the Guinness World Record for priciest dog event at $250,000 and had 200 human guests, plus 30 canines in canine couture.
It was organized by renowned party planner Harriette Rose Katz, who recalled the custom wedding dress, sushi spread, seven-piece orchestra and five-tiered cake by TLC’s Cake Boss. The affair benefited the Humane Society of NY.
Was it stuffy? Certainly not, Katz said. Pet parties are “a great excuse to really have fun and not take yourself too seriously.”