Yappy Hour Earns High Barks at Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel

Hundreds of guests were at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel; and some of them were even on two-legs. It was the fifth Yappy Hour of the summer, a free event at the hotel for dogs and their owners.

The Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel has always tried to be a pet friendly hotel, and it didn’t take a lot of effort to turn the peaceful Dana Lawn into a paradise for pooches. The results may be a bit chaotic, but they’ve proven to be quite popular.

Most of the guests were there to mingle with other dog people. Bianca, a local, came to find other boxer owners. “It’s a great way for people to meet at an event,” she said. And Rocco, her boxer? “He gets real interested in the other dogs.”

The Simons were in town to visit relatives, but heard about Yappy Hour. Luckily, they brought Jax. “We take our dog to a lot of things,” said frequent traveler Steve.

Some of the luxuries that awaited the dogs included a massage booth that was open for both guests and pets to receive complimentary back rubs. Also present was Debby Carman, a Laguna Beach artist who runs Faux Paw Productions, a business specializing in ceramic doggie dishes custom made to look like your pet.

Two tents provided food and drink for the human guests: a food tent that offered fresh sushi and burgers and hot dogs barbecued to delicious effect, and a cocktail tent that sold soft drinks and mineral water, as well as beer, cocktails and wine. The featured wine came from Mutt Lynch, a quirky Sonoma winery that crafts different “breeds” of wine, like “Merlot Over and “Play Dead” and “Chateau D’og Cabernet.” Mutt Lynch donates some of its proceeds to a variety of dog and animal fundraisers.

Not to be left behind, the pampered pets were free to enjoy complimentary doggie treats and trips to their own bar, where water came flavored with chicken, cheese, beef, liver or bacon (bacon water appeared to be the biggest hit with the canine crowd, but beef water was a close second).

Proceeds from this year’s Yappy Hour events go to the Pet Project Foundation, a San Clemente organization that provides food and no-kill shelters for homeless pets, so you can shamelessly spoil your pet with the knowledge that it’s not just your dog who is being treated well.

The last Yappy Hour will be September 1, from 5 to 8 p.m. However, the Ritz-Carlton has enjoyed such success with the event, that future Yappy Hours seem inevitable, and a special Howl-Oween Yappy Hour, complete with canine costume contest, will be held on October 27.

Becky and her standard poodle Lola have attended before, and plan to keep coming. “That’s going to be cool,” Becky said of the upcoming Howl-Oween. Lola could not be reached for comment; she was chasing a cute beagle.

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