by Kym Byrnes

Dogs will be rejoicing on Aug. 10 as it is National Spoil Your Dog Day. I suspect the day came to be as a result of some company’s savvy PR machine building a campaign to sell more gourmet dog treats and puppy tutus. But who are we kidding? Dog owners don’t need a national day to overdo it when it comes to treating our mutts well. We can be over the top all on our own. Fortunately we don’t have to look too far for ways to do right by our four-legged friends — here are a few ways to make them feel special all year long.

Fido goes to the spa

My family knows that when it’s time to spoil me, they send me to the spa. It’s likely your dog may feel the same, and there are even groomers who will save you the car ride and come right to your home. There are a lot of local businesses (stationary and mobile) that will pamper your pooch in Carroll County. Before booking an appointment, ask some key questions: Do you offer services beyond shampoo and haircut? And what is the pricing for each service? Can I be present when my dog is groomed? Do you have experience with my breed? And what is the background/experience of the groomer? Some groomers with more than four stars on Google include Norma’s K-9 Designs in Westminster, Country Clipper in Sykesville and All About Fur Mobile Pet Grooming, based in New Windsor.

Fido eats well

It used to be fun to convince your little sister that the dog food was a human snack, but today it’s possible that some of the gourmet treats we serve our dogs are better for us than snacks made for humans. Many local pet shops and groomers sell nutritious dog food and delicious treats. The dog food aisle at the store can be exhausting if you’re trying to figure out a healthy, nutritious food that won’t break the bank — they even have a refrigerated section. Puppy Love Dog Boutique and Spa in Sykesville offers handcrafted, artisan gourmet dog treats, including treats that are gluten-free, grain-free and organic. Also check out Bowman’s Feed and Pet in Westminster for a range of nutritious dog food options and a staff that knows animal food.

Fido lives for playtime

I have to be very careful saying ride or walk in my house because even a whisper of those words will have my dog going berserk at the door. Carroll County is fortunate to have plenty of parks and open spaces to take the dogs for a walk or a hike. There are even ponds, lakes and rivers where dogs can take a swim. There are also several dog parks where the dogs can make friends and become part of the pack, including the South Carroll Dog Park in Sykesville and Bennett Cerf Dog Park in Westminster. Just make sure you mind the rules and keep your dog safe — there are vaccines for dogs that socialize in public spaces, some parks have pet restrictions, and some water sources can be dangerous at certain times (i.e. bacteria levels).

Fido has mail

Because the thought of Puppy getting bored playing with the same old toys for more than a month is just too stressful to think about, there are subscription boxes that will send new doggie items in the mail every month. BarkBox, Pawstruck and Bullymake are just a few of the companies offering subscriptions. While the dog ultimately benefits, the service is also helpful to the humans who don’t want to spend even more time in pet stores and pet aisles, because some people (perhaps like the writer of this article) end up going in for one squeaky toy and come out with all sorts of noise-making things to throw, rip, chew and tug.

Fido goes high tech

Owners may see this as more about safety than spoiling — but if you ask my grandparents what they think about having a camera at home so you could talk to and watch your dog all day, or a mechanism that spits out a treat when you tell it to — I’m pretty sure they’d say that’s over the top. So we can just agree that it’s a little bit of both. Whether it’s a water-purifying dog bowl, or a collar with GPS tracking (that also alerts you when the dog has reached his steps for the day), camera systems to monitor and talk to the dog or a machine that can launch balls up to 30 feet for the dog to fetch, it’s clear that there are plenty of ways that technology can help the little beast live his best life.

We all know at the end of the day, it’s just love and affection that our furry friends need. But spoiling them is fun, and they (usually) deserve every bit of it for their unconditional love and friendship.