Parade Pet Survival Guide

When the body senses a stressor, it acts to protect itself. Stored fuels (sugars and fats) release a burst of energy, breathing rate increases sending more oxygen to the blood, muscles tense preparing for action and senses become more acute (hearing more sensitive, pupils enlarge and smell is sharper).

Your pet can't maintain a high level of alertness indefinitely, so before departing for Mal's St. Paddy's Parade, heed the following recommendations to enhance your and your pet's experience:

• Get up early. For three weeks running, get up earlier than normal. By P-Day, your pet will believe this is normal and not stress when you get up early on a Saturday.

• Walk. Upon waking, take your pet for a leisurely stroll. Each day, keep to the same path so as to not confuse or heighten emotional angst.

• Do not over-hydrate. Too much water overfills the bladder. A full "tank" is not a pretty sight, especially when relief is required amongst a throng of parade celebrants.

• Do not over-feed. Too many pre-departure goodies will fill the belly resulting in discomfort and pending relief embarrassment during the parade (and the accompanying peer pressure for doo-doo pick-up in public).

• Stash. Seal dry treats for the day in clear Ziploc bags. Depending on your pet's sense of smell, you may need to double bag said goodies. Place the bags in a shoulder strapped canvas bag. This will disguise the contents, free up your hands, and not prematurely let Fido in on the secret. Add select food and drink for yourself so that sharing is not an option.

• Water. The night before, chill enough liquid refreshment for you and your pet. Before placing in your canvas bag, wrap each container in a cloth towel to absorb excessive moisture on the container.

• Leash. The night before, place an extra leash into aforementioned bag. Using your regular leash will confuse your pet and establish premature departure expectations.

• Attire. Your pets are color-blind; however, they do not appreciate being gaudily dressed up in St. Paddy's-related attire. What you consider "cute," your pet will not. Be forewarned: If a stranger laughs while poking a finger at your pet, this will result in either an angry charge at the taunting person, or your embarrassed pet crawling under the nearest bush.

• Pictures. Rely on your fully charged phone for photo ops. Not only will this keep your hands free but inhibit your pet's latent desire to pose and ham it up.

• Seat. A lightweight portable chair provides a respite during the parade's slow moments and helps define your turf. Plus, securing the pet's leash to the chair (note: you must be sitting in chair otherwise pet will bolt) will free your hands to take pictures or imbibe in liquid refreshment.

• Schedule. Timing is everything. Leave early to get a convenient parking space. This also affords your pet the chance to check out all the cool parade smells.

• Location. While a fire hydrant or tree has curbside appeal, opt for an open parcel instead. You don't know who or what has been at that hydrant or tree before you. In an open space, your pet won't be as enticed to leave its "mark," and you won't be forced to deal with the smell through the course of the parade experience.

Speaking of smell, be considerate of your fellow revelers: Come prepared to pick up after your pet so that others don't have to deal with it on the bottom of their shoes.


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