Written by our Founder and CEO, our Celebrations Pulse letters aim to engage with our community. By welcoming your ideas and sharing your stories, we want to help you strengthen your relationships with the most important people in your life.
The “Happy Birthday!” banner was hung with care above a cake surrounded by chips, popcorn, and cookies. Dozens of guests passed a stack of gifts as the first song of a carefully curated playlist sounded from the speakers.
“Who let the dogs out? Who, who, who, who, who?”
A few weeks ago, employees at our Long Island headquarters celebrated the first birthday of Sox, the McCann family’s service dog-in-training (more about him below). Everyone had a great time during the party, and the extremely well-behaved guest of honor lapped it all up with gusto.
The party exceeded all expectations. The very happy pup loved his snacks and gifts, which were selected by the team that oversees our Max & Milo collection. And all the humans in the crowd got a chance to connect with their co-workers. Topics of conversation included the dogs they grew up with, their current canines, and other pet stories.
We like to celebrate everything at 1-800-Flowers.com, from birthdays and years of service to holidays big and small. Sox’s party, however, was the first time we came together to fete a four-legged friend. Then again, we never had a dog to celebrate!
Reasons to celebrate your dog
With National Dog Day next Saturday, it’s a great time to be thinking about the importance of dogs and why it’s important to celebrate them, whether it’s on their birthday, adoption anniversary, or any other milestone.
First, dogs are often called our best friends for a reason. Their adoration is never questioned, and their companionship and love are unconditional. No matter how difficult a day you’ve had, your furry friend will be there for you.
Second, they play a critical role in our social lives. As we saw at Sox’s birthday party, dog owners have an automatic conversation starter with other dog owners. You’ll always have something to talk about, whether it’s Fido’s unique personality or his latest stunt.
Third, dogs and other pets play a critical role in our well-being. Research shows people with pets tend to be less lonely, get more exercise, and have lower blood pressure than those without four-legged companions. All the social interaction pays off: Dog owners have less stress, better moods, and less heart disease.
Giving is the gift, even for canines
Do dogs care about what’s happening at a party? Do they understand what Christmas is or that it’s their birthday? No. But, they like to be included in the things we’re doing, and if they see you giving a gift to someone else and see the happy reaction, they’re primed to enjoy it if you give something to them as well.
“It helps them feel part of the family.” – Dr. Zazie Todd, animal behaviorist and author of the blog Companion Animal Psychology.
And while toys and snacks are great ideas for dog gifts, giving the gift of your time and company is just as important as what you give.
“Pets love the things we give them and being there to see them enjoy them brings us closer to them. We get to share that experience with them and see the happiness it brings them. Positive experiences like that are good for their welfare, and it builds a better bond between you.” – Dr. Todd.
It’s also important to remember that giving, whether to your children, your friends, or your pets, is a two-way street. Research shows that giving your pet – or anyone, actually – a gift lifts your mood as well. I know it certainly lifted our family’s mood watching Sox play with all his new toys for his birthday.
“When you give a gift to your dog, it’s sort of pure. You just assume the dog is going to like it, you feel relaxed, the dog senses that you’re relaxed, and the interaction is loving,” – Dr. Ellen Langer, professor of psychology, Harvard University.
Sox: A very special pup
Last year, I was visiting with John Miller, a friend who was an executive at the health technology company Medtronic. He told me about Canine Companions, an organization that trains service dogs and then gives them away for free to veterans and people with disabilities.
I immediately wanted to share Canine Companions’ story and do more to bring awareness to the role of service dogs in helping people live more independent lives. It was also a chance for this grandpa to bring his grandkids (and Celebrations Pulse readers) into the mix.
And so, we adopted a service dog.
Sox was born a year ago and named by our grandchildren with the help of the millions of readers of this letter. His puppy raiser, Brooke, has been providing updates, and the black Lab/Golden Retriever mix has become a cause célèbre at our office in Jericho, New York.
During the party, we got an update on his progress and got to see first-hand his exceptional behavior. He sat patiently (despite the doggie cake) until Brooke gave him permission to dig in.
Sox will continue his basic training with Brooke for about six more months when he’ll graduate to an academy, where he’ll receive advanced training and, hopefully, will be matched with someone in need of his assistance.
Sox has a long journey ahead, and I’m looking forward to updating you on his progress. In the meantime, we’ll celebrate every step of the way.
All the best,