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Deb Collins

Deb is a New Zealander, aka Kiwi, who lives in Maine with her husband, Mike, and her happy-go-wiggly Labrador Retriever, Ted. In 2011, Deb launched her own online business. HappyME, to celebrate happy Maine stuff and exploring Vacationland with your dog. Deb will be blogging about everything dog and sniffing out fun things to do with your wag. More at HappyMEstuff.com | On Facebook at www.facebook.com/HappyMEstuff | Follow on Twitter @happyMEstuff

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Posted: October 30, 2014

Holy mutt-trimony and a splashing good time at The Colony Hotel’s Dog-Lover Weekend

The 11th Annual Colony Hotel’s Dog Lover’s Weekend was like falling down a rabbit hole and finding yourself in a furry wonderland. It might sound a bit barking mad but we celebrated holy mutt-trimony, ate with our dogs in the formal dining room and then turned the heated pool into a wagging aquarium. I have the story and photos to prove it – a whole pupparazzi slideshow that will make you want to wag along next year.

Written by: Deb Collins
Holy Mutt -trimony we had such a splashing good time.

Holy Mutt -trimony we had such a splashing good time.

The end of season dog lover’s weekend at the famously dog-friendly Colony Hotel has been on my radar for years and this year nothing was going to keep me away. I connected with Laurie Cohen, the event organizer, to get the inside scoop and luckily I was able to get on the guest list for the sell out 11th Annual Dog-Lover’s Weekend. When Laurie forwarded me the weekend’s agenda, which included “The Wedding of the Century,” I wasn’t quite sure what to expect and what to wear to our first dog wedding.

Dog-lover’s weekend kicked off on the second to last Friday of October with a variety of dinner options ranging from an ocean-terrace BBQ to a three-course formal dinner. Saturday morning was all about mix and meet time with Maine artisans, an animal communicator, Sara Moore, and the folks from Lucky Pup Rescue. In the afternoon, Paw-ject Runway took guests back in time with dogs decked out in historical costumes to mark the last 100 seasons that The Colony Hotel has been serving up the good times on Southern Maine’s shores.

Getting ready for the pup-nuptuals.

Getting ready for the pup-nuptials.

My husband, Mike, Ted, our dog, and I arrived at The Colony Hotel at the tail-end of Saturday afternoon. The hotel was a buzz amidst final preparations for the big wedding. It was a perfect blue sky day and the front lawn was set for the occasion with views towards the Atlantic Ocean and Gooches Beach. People and dogs lined the lawn; with many decked out in their glad rags for this auspicious occasion.

Boomer the lab offers a little advice to the Bride to be.

Boomer the lab offers a little advice to the bride-to-be.

The wedding procession began as Daisy, the bride, wearing a white and pink lace dress stood with her Mom and gazed down the aisle towards her groom, Odie. The tongue-hanging groom was sporting formal black tails and waiting anxiously for his bride-to-be. As Daisy strutted down the aisle, she received howls of approval and a few inappropriate last-minute sniff and licks from four-paw bachelors lining the aisle.

Dexter and a few other Bachelors attempt a bit of 4-paw play with the Bride to be.

Dexter and a few other bachelors attempt a bit of 4-play with the bride-to-be.

The maid of honor, Georgia, was all wagged up in ruffles and bows. Sweet Georgia Peach is a Southern belle who was rescued by the event organizer, Laurie. Georgia seemed to be a little smitten with the groom herself.

The bride joined the groom at the canine altar and the vows, written by Laurie, were read by the Colony Hotel dog minister who wore a jester hat but held a solemn tone.

“Dearly Bark-loved, we are gathered here today in the presence of these witnesses to join Daisy and Odie in Holy Mutt-rimony … If any puppy can show just cause why they may not be joined together — let them speak and stay now or forever hold their paw.”

The Pup-nuptuals complete with tongue hanging views.

The pup-nuptials complete with tongue-hanging views.

There were chuckles, yodels and ruffs of approval all around the wedding green and one cheeky audience member piped up. “I hope nobody is getting cold paws.” This of course caused more bark and banter, followed by a slight glare and lift of the lip by the bride. The vows continued.

“Today represents the joining of two lives, the bringing together of two toy boxes, the sharing of kibble and drinking from the same water dish … all those present today wish you joy, happiness and lots of good belly rubs.”

The audience wagged and shuffled in the background. Some dogs heads were cocked in eager anticipation, others were licking their lips possibly dreaming of the wedding feast and a few decided it was good time to have some shut-eye.

“Do you Daisy, take Odie, to be your play mate, to lick and to sniff … for better or worse, from dog parks to vets … to love, cherish and obey? …”

The bride and groom cocked their heads and nodded to the minster that this was the direction in life they wished to wag. The furry couple then licked and shared a cookie to mark the momentous occasion.

The Happy Couple

The Happy Couple

After the ceremony, the elated mother of the bride described how Daisy, a confident lass, has helped her new beau gain the confidence to weather life’s challenges, which for Odie includes, among other things, a fear of thunder. The rover romance began with Daisy watching Odie out the car window at training classes and blossomed into “face-licking buddies” after an “arranged” slumber party.
After the pup-nuptials, cocktails and nibbles were served on the porch along with a stunning Maine sunset with the happy couple putting around on the hotel green.

The Happy Couple putters around with sunset views.

The Happy Couple putters around with sunset views.

The wedding banquet was served in the formal dining room with a three-course meal including steamed lobster for the people. Dogs as small as teacups sized all the way up to football player muscly ruffs happily dined with their owners alongside their canine peers. Attentive waiters nimbly negotiated their way over extended leashes and around the maze of wagging tails. The dogs were all served an entree of chicken breast, sweet potatoes and rice along with Woofie Pies made with peanut butter, carob cookies and sugar-free Maine wild blueberry yoghurt icing.

Puppy pile-up at the Wedding Feast

Puppy pile-up at the Wedding Feast

The bride and groom dined at the head table with their families and then joined in the cutting of the wedding cake. Cupcakes were served to the two-legged guests while the fur guests enjoyed a slice of the happy couple’s wedding cake. My husband inadvertently opted to eat a piece of the dogs’ wedding cake, which having witnessed the cake cutting should have caught my attention, but it was another table guest, Hannah, who pointed out his faux pas. It turned out that it was all made from people ingredients anyway but was just a sugar-free healthier option intended for the woofing guests.

The cutting of the wedding cake was a 8-paw love affair

The cutting of the wedding cake was a 8-paw love affair

After dinner, the lounging lobby furniture was filled with people accompanied by their dogs. Many of the guests have been coming to this annual event for years. Every year is different — there have been Halloween parties with wild attire but this year was the first-ever dog wedding. There was remarkable camaraderie amongst the two- and four -legged guests as they wagged, sniffed and told dog-centric stories. As I walked around the hotel, I felt like I was in an “Alice In Wonderland” dream state, passing dogs at every turn and even a cat named Shadow poised on his Dad’s shoulder. Shadow spent the entire weekend shoulder-spectating the dog-lover’s affair.

Shadow the cat was a shoulder-spectator at this dog-centric affair

Shadow the cat was a shoulder spectator at this dog-centric affair.

When our Ted became a little “over-tired and squeaky” we tucked him into bed in our well-appointed room with wooden floors and night-time views over the garden to the ocean. We popped back down to mingle in the bar for a bit and met 185-pound Hudson, a Bull Mastiff casually hanging out with his peeps along with a few other stay-up rovers.

Hudson, The Bull Mastiff, also know as Bubba.

Hudson, The Bull Mastiff, also know as Bubba.

The next day, our schedule had us up at the crack of dawn to get ready for “The Morning Motivation” session where the hotel carriage house is converted into puppy playtime. Early rising woofs chased, rolled and wagged together whilst their owners caffeinated and conversed. Quantum, the German Shepherd, twirled around the room enticing other dogs to play. Bandit, a white and black speckled dog with black patches over each eye, navigated the room skillfully avoiding photos, including distant zoom lens attempts by me. Maverick, the yellow lab, woofed happily about with his big-eared pint-sized little black furry brother, Shadow, who seemed less amused by all the carry on. Our Ted wiggled around, greeting newcomers and then settled into ball play with his new bud Duncan, a handsome golden boy who Ted first meet at the wedding when Duncan was sporting a rabbit hat.

"I can't believe Mom put this rabbit on my head". Duncan regained his dignity when he was invited to join Dock Dogs after his pool debut.

“I can’t believe Mom put this rabbit on my head.” Duncan regained his dignity when he was invited to join Dock Dogs after his pool diving efforts.

Following carriage house antics and a beach play, we headed to a full gourmet buffet breakfast in the dining room where owners once again dined with their wags.

Strolling views at The Colony Hotel

Strolling views at The Colony Hotel

At 10 a.m., everyone gathered for a group picture. Two hundred people and about 150 dogs layered themselves on the grassy slope for the annual photo with the majestic Colony Hotel in the background. Laurie marked the occasion with a dog blessing, suggesting if we all tried to live our lives with the attitude of a dog that the world would be a happier place:
“Live like you always have your head out the window … Sometimes you have to sniff a few bad things to get the good stuff … and just love each other unconditionally.”

The Colony Hotels 11th Annual Dog-Lover's Group Photo:  Quite a feat keeping all these 4-paws still for a group photo.

The Colony Hotels 11th Annual Dog-Lover’s Group Photo: Quite a feat keeping all these 4-paws still for a group photo.

After the photo shoot, people and dogs strolled the oceanside grounds and then it was time to head over to the heated pool for The Dock Dogs demonstration. People and dogs lined the poolside as these talented dogs leapt through the air and splashed in. Perched on the edge of the pool and trying to capture the scene, I was sure I was going to end up getting pawed into the drink, camera and all. The soaring dock dogs were impressive along with the howls and yodels from the woof-spectators who couldn’t wait for the final celebratory event when the pool opens up to the dogs.

Dock Dog Action. I was sitting amongst the dogs so  shooting into the sun was tough - but you get the idea...

Dock Dog Action. I was sitting amongst the dogs and shooting into the sun was tough – but you get the idea …

A ruff crowd gathered to cheer on the Dock Dogs.

A ruff crowd gathered to cheer on the Dock Dogs.

Finally, the announcement was made that the pool was now open for hotel guest pup play, four paws began to splash their way in to the tepid blue water. Some water wags just leapt in, others teetered on the edge and fell in and many just waded down the stairs. There was water ball play, deck chair hurdle action and just a bunch of happy dogs and a few people floating around together. The pool action continued till around midday and then complimentary towels were handed out and people began to gather their belongings.

Heated pool time was enjoyed by furry friends and like-minded peeps.

Heated pool time was enjoyed by furry friends and like-minded peeps.

Back inside the hotel lobby as people and their dogs said their furry sad goodbyes, numerous reservation requests were already being made for The Colony Hotel’s 2015 Annual Dog-Lover’s Weekend. It’s a sellout event and no wonder; it’s Disneyworld for dogs served up on a shiny silver platter. Sign us up for next year, Laurie.

Check out The Maine Wag pupparazzi slideshow of The Colony Hotel Dog-Lover’s Weekend.

If you’re looking for more Dog-Lover’s Weekend photo fun, photographer Robyn Lisone, from Muttography in Connecticut, was a guest at the event and captured some superb photos including some of the early weekend wag action. Check it out.

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