Dog-centric events at The Kansas City Country Club and Seattle Yacht Club help bring together members who might not otherwise socialize.
The “Doggy DIp,” a new event at The Kansas City Country Club (Mission Hills, Kan.), debuted last year as a way to extend use and enjoyment of the club’s popular pool facilities to everyone in member families—including those with four legs. On the last day of the season, members were encouraged to bring their dogs (it was emphasized that they should be well-trained) to swim in one of the club’s four pools. Some jumped right in along with their pooches, toys were provided, and even races were organized. A build-your-own Bloody Mary bar and light snacks added to the two-hour festivities.
|THE GOAL: Offer family-friendly social events at The Kansas City Country Club and Seattle Yacht Club where members can mingle with their dogs in tow.
THE PLAN: Kansas City CC debuted the “Doggy Dip” to turn the usually sad occasion of season-ending pool closing into a festive affair. At Seattle YC, Yappy Hour, scheduled post-Labor Day, offered creative treats for dogs and their human companions, along with contests like best trick and best costume.
THE PAYOFF: Appreciation for extending family-friendliness to include four-legged “members”; in addition, people of all ages (and interests) who don’t typically cross paths find at these events that they have the love of dogs in common, bringing new segments of the membership closer together.
The event was a huge success, the club reports, and “members are already marking their calendars for what used to be one of their least-favorite days of the year [pool closing], to now make it one of their more cherished events they can celebrate with family and friends, including furry ones.”
The concept of extending family-friendliness to include beloved pets is also catching on at properties that don’t have pools or other areas that make it easy to keep the pets occupied, and contained. While she was attending a meeting of the Evergreen Chapter of the Club Managers Association of America, the seed of a dog-oriented event was planted in the mind of Amy Shaftel, Assistant General Manager/Catering Director of Seattle (Wash.) Yacht Club.
“I was chatting with some golf-club managers and they said that the last day of their season, they open their swimming pools to a swim-with-your-pet day,” says Shaftel. “Although we don’t have a pool, our members do take their dogs cruising on their boats.”
So that inspired the Seattle YC staff to take a cue from local hotels and restaurants that host successful pet events. The club developed “Yappy Hour,” an event that encouraged members to bring their four-legged friends to the property, to enjoy treats made in-house, contests and prizes.
Though dogs are not allowed inside the Seattle YC clubhouse, the property has a large lawn, adjacent to a city park, that provided an ideal site for the occasion (many members let their dogs run through this area to get to the property’s four docks, where a snack shack is located). To protect the grass and take advantage of cooler weather, Shaftel planned the event at the end of wedding season.
“After Labor Day, our members are back from summer cruising [with their dogs] and looking for family activities,” she notes.
To kick off the event, an MC had all 40 attendees introduce their dogs (a total of 30), followed by contests for best costume, best trick, best catch, most spots, and oldest dog, with dog leashes, portable water bowls and boat-themed dog toys (all emblazoned with the Seattle YC logo) awarded as prizes. Dogs (and their owners) were also encouraged to BYOB (bring your own ball).
For the dogs, Executive Chef Bre Beike and his kitchen staff prepared pumpkin and oatmeal dog treats, and served “Bowser Beer,” a non-alcoholic, non-carbonated beverage for dogs. For the canines’ human companions, the club offered drinks including a “Greyhound” (grapefruit juice and vodka) and created new cocktails such as a “Pomeranian” (rum, pomegranate juice, Triple Sec, lemon juice and grapefruit juice) and a “Bulldog” (gin, orange juice, and ginger ale).
The club also offered a buffet with Wieners in Blankets, Kibbles and Bits (Chex mix), Veggie Treats (crudites and dip), Pawtato Bites (tater tots), and Chocolate and Vanilla Pupcakes.
Shaftel planned the event with a $100 prize budget from the club’s entertainment committee, and reports that a life member, who had never volunteered for anything, offered to chair the event this year.
In the future, she plans to offer “barktails” (chicken stock with a rawhide swizzle stick), and add a contest for the members who most resemble their dogs or have the same outfits.
For properties planning similar events, Shaftel offers these tips: “Make sure there are garbage cans, lots of water bowls, and areas with shade. Have a rain plan or the ability to notify guests if the weather is poor. And don’t forget poop bags!
“It was great to have an event that did not feature alcohol, was family-friendly, and open to members of all ages and interests,” she says. “All types of members came—power boaters, sail boaters, retirees, young families, couples without children, and new members.
“The dogs were very well-behaved,” Shaftel adds. “I was concerned that a group of members who don’t know each other might not mix—but everyone loves to talk about their dogs!”