Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Arden Moore
Let’s be candid. Valentine’s Day dates can be hit and miss. Even if you are blessed to be with “the one,” this holiday can generate a lot of stress triggered by trying to find the right gift, making reservations at the right restaurant and coming up with the right words to describe your affection for that special person in your life.
So, why not shift your focus on this holiday to that special four-legger in your life who showers you with love and affection 365 days a year, 24/7?
That’s my game plan this Valentine’s Day for Cleo, my 15-year-old retired canine surf dog; Kona, my 2-year-old terrier mix; and Casey, my 2-year-old orange tabby.
Fortunately, Palm Beach County puts out the welcome mat to pets in a variety of ways. Here are some ideas on how you can celebrate this heartfelt holiday with your pet:
Make a splash. Weather permitting, escort your water-loving dog to the Dog and Bark Beach, 3001 N. Ocean Blvd., Boca Raton. Please note that you must obtain a permit and show proof of residency before unleashing your pup to race across the shoreline.
Dine in style. Look for dog-friendly eateries that allow your well-mannered, leashed dog to join you in patio seating. Consider places like the Hurricane Alley, 529 E. Ocean Ave., Boynton Beach, or Boston’s on the Beach, 40 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach. Both restaurants feature doggy menus your canine chum will drool over.
Unleash energy at a dog park. Treat your dog-friendly, athletic dog to a sniff-and-greet outing at a dog park where she can romp and run without a leash inside a safe enclosed park. Here are parks earning high approval ratings from the www.BringFido.com website: Canine Cove at South County Regional Park, 12551 Glades Road, Boca Raton; Lake Ida Dog Park, 1455 Lake Ida Road, Delray Beach; City Paws, 1401 Lake Ave., West Palm Beach, and F.I.N.D. Park, 211 River Park Drive, Jupiter.
Attend a special dog event. The PetSmart stores in the county will host a “Puppy Love” event from noon to 3 p.m. on Feb. 11. Dog trainers will be available to offer tips on puppy nutrition, dental health and training. There will be drawings and photo opportunities and plenty of Valentine’s Day-themed toys and treats, according to Robin Burger, assistant store leader at the PetSmart in West Palm Beach and proud pet parent to a pair of Australian cattle dog mixes named Iviza and Pacha.
Fetch some Fido fashion. Adorable Yorkshire terriers named Charlie and Spike serve as inspiration for a line of fashionable-yet-functional dog harnesses created by Jamie Broder. Her Boynton Beach-based company showcases the WagSwag Collection with lots of selections, including those that illuminate puppy love for Valentine’s Day. Use the “Be Mine 20” coupon code for added savings at www.charlieandspike.com.
Head for a pampered getaway. The Alfond Inn at Rollins College in Winter Park is offering a special puppy love package through Feb. 28 that includes a two-night stay, room service for your dog and a variety of treats and gifts at rates starting at $580. Learn more at www.thealfondinn.com. To find other pet-friendly lodgings, go to www.BringFido.com.
Showcase your camera hound. Honor your dog or cat by booking a photo session with pet professional photographers and frame your favorite pose. Or take some silly selfies with your furry pal. For a list of pet photographers featured on Thumbtack, go to: www.thumbtack.com/fl/west-palm-beach/animal-photography/.
Bring out the inner hunter in your tabby. Enrich the life of your indoor cat while working his brain and his muscles with food puzzle toys that he can swat and figure out how to get the tasty kibble to spill out for consumption.
Don an apron and be a pet chef for a day. Instead of buying store-bought treats, find a healthy dog or cat cookie recipe you can make for your favorite pet. My dogs love “Marvelous Mutt Meatballs” from my book Real Food for Dogs, and Casey pumps up his purr for “Tuna Patties” from my book Fit Cat. (The recipes are below.)
If you are fortunate to share your home — and your heart — with a pet, you will never be alone on Valentine’s Day. Your pet will be there to help you celebrate in whatever manner you choose — guaranteed.
Arden Moore, founder of www.FourLeggedLife.com, is an animal behavior consultant, editor, author, professional speaker and master certified pet first aid instructor. Each week, she hosts the popular Oh Behave! show on www.PetLifeRadio.com. Learn more by visiting www.fourleggedlife.com.
From my Real Food for Dogs, here is the recipe for Marvelous Mutt Meatballs:
1 pound ground beef or ground turkey
2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 cup bread crumbs
2 eggs, whisked
3 tablespoons tomato paste (low-sodium)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Scoop out spoonfuls of the mixture and roll into mini meatballs, each about the size of a quarter. Place the meatballs on a cookie sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool before serving. Serves 10 to 15 canine guests.
From my Fit Cat book, here is the recipe for Tuna Patties:
One 6 1/2-ounce can of water-packed tuna, drained
1 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon brewer’s yeast
2 tablespoons margarine
In a medium bowl, whisk eggs. Add the tuna, bread crumbs and brewer’s yeast. Blend with a wooden spoon until moistened and thoroughly mixed. Form the mixture into 6 patties. In a large skillet, melt the margarine over medium heat. Place each of the patties into the skillet. Cook each side for 3 to 5 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the patties to cool and then crumble into small pieces. Sprinkle over your cat’s kibble or put in a wide bowl. Makes 6 portions.