At the Rockin’ TJ Ranch, we’ve been blessed to witness some of the cutest inclusions of fur-babies in wedding ceremonies, as well as some major disasters, fur and teeth a-flying. Having a puppy ring-bearer can make for an adorable photo-album addition, but it can also potentially lead to a last-minute mad-dash chasing the little guy through a nearby stream before you can find time to say “I do.” Here are a few points to keep in mind when considering including your babies in the ceremony.
Can Your Pet Handle Being Around That Many People at Once?
Becoming suddenly surrounded by 200+ people can induce a great amount of anxiety for your baby. We’ve had clients assure us that their pet could handle that amount of stimulation when in actuality, they had no idea; the animal ended up a nervous wreck.
If your pet has ever shown signs of risky behavior such as biting or excessive barking, do reconsider including them in the ceremony or general wedding party. High-stress environments such as weddings bring out these behaviors in animals like nothing else. We’ve had a child bitten by a ceremony dog before, as well as a pair of dogs that barked and howled throughout the entire service, so loud that they could even be heard from their kennels across the venue.
Caring For Your Pet Throughout the Day
At many venues, letting an animal indoors presents a health-code violation. The fact that your baby may have to stay outside is something to keep in mind, especially if the climate around your venue is extremely hot or cold. Make sure your animal is provided with plenty of water throughout the day, and just as with a child, you cannot leave your pet locked in your car during the entirety of the event.
The Rockin’ TJ is lucky enough to neighbor a doggy-daycare, but most venues are not. If you’re in an unfamiliar area, remember that all your close friends and family will most likely be at your wedding, so your animal may need to stay in a boarding kennel. Sometimes becoming comfortable with unfamiliar environments takes a bit of practice. In order to make sure your baby isn’t overly stressed or scared; you can book them a couple nights in advance so they may get accustomed to staying around other animals and with professional caregivers.
Rockin’ TJ Ranch owner Teresa used to run a daycare at a ski resort. Parents would bring children that had never been in a daycare before; this was the first time they’d ever been separated from Mom at a ripe three years old. Oh, the rivers of woe on that first day. They’d cry. And weep. And hyperventilate. And heave.
The second day would be better. The third day, better than that. And by the time they left at the end of the week, they were all cheer and smiles, ready to play with the other kids.This is why Theresa recommends familiarizing your fur-babies with dog-boarding before you traipse off to your destination wedding; any stress on you and your babies should be reserved for days other than the one supposed to be your happiest.
The Importance of Leashes
At Rockin’ TJ Ranch, we maintain a leash policy for several reasons.All sorts of other animals and wildlife roam near the ranch; neighboring dogs, deer, ducks, badgers, and bears to name a few, and if your dog runs off to chase something during your wedding, it’s game-over.If your baby is lost, the wedding is ended, we’re on a find-our-baby mission. It’s just as much of a panic as losing an actual child in the mall, and here, it can be just as dangerous, because the highway is near. You might think that at half a mile out you’d be far away enough to eliminate the threat of your pet getting hit by a car, but that’s not the case if they run off. In addition, dogs have the potential to get really lost out here. If they take off after a deer or bird or squirrel, etc., you could spend days searching through the woods and fields and not find them. In addition, the likelihood of your pet running off and losing their bearings in an unfamiliar area is extremely high. It’s a terrible way to lose your baby, so keep him or her on a leash.
Another reason for the leash policy is an animal’s seemingly unlimited potential to locate trouble to be had. One time, we had a barbecue trailer set up toward the back of the venue, and one of the groom’s dogs managed his way in and devoured a sizable portion of the meat. Another time, a bride brought in the cutest little Labrador puppy assigned with the task of ring-bearer. He charmed the guests all morning in his handsome little outfit. Flash forward to the ceremony, it was his big moment: time for the rings. At the last second, he spotted a duck and made an immediate U-turn, racing off to the creek. BOOM! He splashed into the pond, with the whole congregation chasing after him at mach-5, shouting his name. The mad scramble to catch the soaking pup at least ended in the rings’ safe recovery, but it could have all been avoided had the little guy been on a leash.
Make Sure the Wrangler Can Handle Your Baby
The wrangler must be able to handle the dog on the leash, and your pet must be leash-trained.Your dog can’t be pulling the wrangler around, bumping into people and tables and decorations.We once had a dog that managed to wrap himself around Grandma’s legs, and down she went, separating her shoulder on the patio.You can’t assign a child too young or small to hold onto the dog all night and keep the dog entertained; you need a capable caretaker.
Your fur-babies are important members of your family. Sharing your special day with them can be magical in theory, and many times in practice. However, for their safety and happiness, it’s important to be honest about each animal’s individual personality, training, and comfortably levels. Even with so many other things to plan and schedule, it’s a top priority to ensure your babies are well cared-for and protected. We hope to meet many of them in the years to come!