It is of course the most charming of ideas to have your beloved pup, dressed in canine finery, participate in your wedding. I have a client planning a December wedding that will include her adorable Goldendoodle puppy in a tuxedo. We are all hoping he will be out of his chewing phase well before the rehearsal dinner.
Back in 2008 when I got married, even I considered packing up my dogs along with my trousseau. Ultimately it was only a fleeting thought, because when I really thought through the logistics, I realized my dogs would spend most of the wedding weekend bored in a strange hotel room. So instead, they enjoyed an at-home doggie Staycation.
Years ago, a dog walking colleague of mine was invited to the wedding of her client so she enlisted me to be the “plus one” of her client’s dogs and drive them to the wedding. Enchanted by the notion of these two dogs walking up the aisle with the rest of the wedding party, I forgot to ask about the temperament of the dogs. A day and a half later, I considered the nightmarish possibilities… dogs who were fearful of strangers…or another chaotic possibility…a pair of 6-month old Labrador puppies dragging me across the dance floor to ambush the buffet table.
The reality turned out to be worse than my imagination. One of the dogs was a male bully breed who I had last seen years ago when a game of tug-of-war at the dog park had gone awry. Kilo was dog friendly but a resource guarder to be sure and that morning he had dramatically locked onto his Great Dane playmate’s mouth, injuring him. With this in mind, I decided I was not the best wedding date for Kilo and his four-legged sister. As much as I hated to do it, I backed out of our date.
When it comes to escorting dogs to weddings, I am not always worried about having to call animal control or 911. My anxiety is actually much more practical. Last summer, a bride-to-be client instilled fear in my heart when she texted me a picture of herself from her final fitting. There she was, beaming in her gorgeous gown. Yet all I could picture was the horror of her energetic, young dog jumping on her minutes before she walked down the aisle. Best case scenario: the dress would be embellished with dirty paw prints. Worst case scenario: the dress would be left in tatters.
As excited as I had been to decorate Stella’s harness with flowers matching those of her Dog Mom’s bridal bouquet, I was relieved when they unexpectedly decided to leave Stella back home with me. The day of the wedding, as Stella’s Dog Dad & Dog Mom recited their vows on a ranch 150 miles away, Stella ran to the beach and back with her favorite running partner, my husband.
Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t considered what could be worse than a dog in my care causing a spectacle at a wedding. The answer in short: a dog causing a spectacle at a memorial service by knocking down her dog walker. Fortunately, this did not happen to me. It did however happen to my friend Annie who was asked to bring a Vizsla to the memorial service of her Dog Dad on the North Lawn of the UCLA campus.
Annie might have stood a better chance had she been dressed in her usual Lulu Lemon Capri pants and Merrell hiking shoes but dressed as she was for the elegant and somber occasion, she collapsed to the ground like a falling tree when Sophie the Vizsla went after a squirrel. For most of the service, Annie and Sophie had their eye on the same squirrel who was hopping around high on a branch of one of the beautiful foundation trees.
According to Annie, at one point the squirrel actually lay down on its side, propped up its head with his arm bent at the elbow and waggled its tail at Sophie. It was like a Disney character come to life. Next thing she knew, Annie was on the ground, gripping the leash for dear life as Sophie went wild.
With the guests in attendance at the memorial Twittering and Instagramming during the service, Annie should consider herself lucky that she did not become an overnight viral sensation. The only other takeaway from the unfortunate afternoon, is that regardless of whether it’s a six figure wedding or a quiet ceremony, dogs will always be dogs.