Celebrating Valentine’s Day has long been recognised as an opportunity for people to show their love for each other. Although dog lovers like to include their best friends in everything, traditional flowers and chocolates are unlikely to get your dog’s tail wagging with happiness! Luckily, there are many other things that will make the day memorable for you both.
Andrea McHugh looks at how to make this year’s Valentine’s Day extra special.
Gift of time
Begin by making a promise that this will be a day to unashamedly show gratitude for your dog’s unconditional love and companionship. If possible, book the day off so that you can spend it doing things that you and your dog enjoy. While we humans might relish the idea of a pamper afternoon on Valentine’s Day, it might not be your dog’s idea of a great time, unless he absolutely loves being bathed and groomed. He would probably much prefer it if you turned off your phone, and took him for a trip to the beach, or a nice walk and a game of fetch, followed by a chill-out on the sofa sitting next to you.
Combine your dog’s love of food with scent work by creating a Valentine’s hamper of goodies for him to rummage through. Simply cover a cardboard box with paper and then fill it with tasty treats hidden in scrunched up newspaper pieces ready for him to enjoy. Try throwing a few unwrapped treats into the box as well, to give your dog the idea of searching to find something tasty. While you can buy special Valentine’s dog treats and toys to include in his hamper, if money is tight just wrap up some of his favourite old toys.
The great thing about dogs is they never judge you! Once the hamper is ready, sit back and watch your dog sort through his stash of secret surprises!
After a nice walk and a spot of lunch, head home to curl up on the sofa and relax together while you read a good book or watch a movie. There are some fantastic films and books to choose from, but if you are stuck for choice, you might like to check out ‘The Art of Racing in the Rain’, by Garth Stein. Told from a dog’s point of view, the story follows Enzo from puppyhood to his final moments of living with his racing car driver owner. First published in 2008, the book was a New York Times best-seller for 156 weeks and definitely pulls at the heart strings. Whether you watch the film or read the book, you’ll definitely be cuddling your dog extra close at the end.
On a lighter note, why not revisit your childhood and watch ‘Lady and the Tramp’? Made in 1955, this animation has stood the test of time as one of Walt Disney’s most magical films. It also contains the unforgettably romantic scene between American Cocker Spaniel Lady and her mongrel beau, Tramp. Watching them share a bowl of spaghetti will make you smile every time!
Give your dog the gift of time.
Caught on camera!
If you fancy something a little more active than watching a movie, why not get the family involved and make your own? There are lots of easy to use movie apps available for mobile phones, so do your research, and once you’ve downloaded the app think up a romantic little Valentine’s Day story line featuring your dog in the starring role. Gather together some props (hearts and flowers are always good!), add some pretty music, and have fun producing your film — the outtakes are often much better than the finished piece!
An essential activity for Valentine’s Day is to dress up warm, and go for a long, leisurely walk together. If you are lucky you may spot lots of pretty snowdrops, particularly in local woodlands, which always provide a great photo opportunity. Snowdrops are also guaranteed to lift the spirits as they are a great visual reminder that spring is on the way. Allow your dog plenty of time for sniffing out all the exciting smells that are around at this time of year. Sniffing is a top pastime for dogs, and he’ll love every minute!
Snowdrops are a reminder that spring is coming.
Words of love
Some of the world’s greatest poets, authors, and songwriters have been moved to write about their dogs, and it can also be good fun to have a go at writing your own. Remember that your poem or story doesn’t have to be a masterpiece — just try to say in words how much your dog means to you.
The truth I do not stretch or shove
When I state that the dog is full of love.
I’ve also found, by actual test,
A wet dog is the lovingest.
Poet Ogden Nash (1902 – 1971)
Over the years many famous artists, including Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol, have used their dogs as muses for their artwork. This Valentine’s Day why not commission a professional artist to do a portrait of your dog as a symbol of your love for him? Pastels artist Dawn Warnock, from Lincolnshire, is also a dog owner and agility competitor. She said: “People commission paintings of their dogs for many reasons, particularly if they want to commemorate their lives, However, it is a massive advantage if
I can meet the dog, take photographs, and talk to the owner about his or her character traits.
“I like to deliver the finished piece as I tell people if they are not happy with what I’ve done they don’t have to keep it. I love seeing people’s reactions, and sometimes they even burst into tears because they’re so pleased! A reaction like that makes me incredibly happy.”
Remember that professional paintings can take weeks to produce so ensure you factor this into your schedule.
● For more details on Dawn’s work, visit https://www.petportraitsinpastel.com/
Dawn at work