Today I'd like to introduce you to Michelle Trejo, the person behind BYOD (Bring Your Own Dog) Houston. We met at Bar Boheme's dog friendly patio , where I also got to meet her dogs Lily and Lylo. Michelle is one of the most contagiously enthusiastic and upbeat people I have ever met, and I think you'll love her too!
Me: First of all, tell me about your dogs!
Michelle: I have two shelties, Lily and Lylo. Lily is three years old, super excitable, and drinks only Ozarka water. She was the reason I started seeking out dog-friendly establishments and the inspiration behind BYOD. Lylo is two years old, super chill, and a mama's boy. We have a tradition of taking an annual photo every New Year's Eve:
Me: Tell me a little about how BYOD Houston got started.
Michelle: My dog Lily and I were regulars at a chill dog-friendly restaurant until one day when the waiter informed us that the restaurant had changed ownership and was no longer dog-friendly. We were asked to leave. I then began searching for other places where Lily would be welcome and chronicling our adventures on Instagram, where many other Houstonians followed along and joined in. One such follower suggested a meet-up event, and I organized the first get-together at Cottonwood in the spring of 2014. At the time, organizing events, Instagraming, and blogging about dog-friendly places in Houston was a hobby, but soon turned transitioned into BYOD.
Me: So what does BYOD look like today?
Michelle: Currently BYOD Houston is a membership community that connects dog lovers to Greater Houston's best dog-friendly deals, events, and recreational activities. The website was launched in October 2017, and members can join for $2.99/month which gives them access to special deals from partner businesses and free admission to BYOD events. Non-members can also use the site to find dog-friendly parks, trails, campgrounds, and businesses.
Me: What do people ask you the most about BYOD?
Michelle: Many people ask if they have to have a dog to participate in BYOD, and the answer is no! Everyone is welcome, whether you have a dog or not.
The second most frequent question is whether you have to be a BYOD member to attend the events, and the answer to that is also no! While members enjoy certain perks (deals and free admission to events), all are welcome.
Me: Do you have a background in the dog industry?
Michelle: No, but I have a passion for helping others and making an impact in the community. In undergrad, I volunteered with an organization that supported troubled youth, and while earning my masters from Rice, I opened an online jewelry shop where a percentage of the proceeds were donated to different causes. The customers voted on which organizations would receive the donations, and many were animal rescue groups. Once I got Lily, I became more interested in promoting responsible dog ownership and making our community more dog friendly.
Me: What is your favorite thing about BYOD?
Michelle: My favorite thing is knowing that the BYOD mission is bringing the community together to create experiences for people to share with their dogs. Occasionally I receive emails from Houston dogs thanking me. For example, Lucy wrote to tell me about an awesome kayaking and camping trip she experienced at Riva Row Boat House in the Woodlands based off information her parents found on the BYOD website. That's awesome!
Me: What are some of the challenges as you get BYOD Houston off the ground?
Michelle: While Houston has come a long way, it is still not the most dog-friendly city. Some laws and old-school ways of thinking have presented challenges in making Houston more accessible to dogs. I get told "no" a lot.
Me: Tell me about the BYOD Launch Party that's taking place on Saturday January 6.
Michelle: The Launch Party is going to be fabulous! It will be held 8-11pm on January 6 at the Sharespace Studio. BYOD is rolling out the red carpet for you and your dog - enjoy music, small bites, wine, beer, contests, raffles, and meeting other dog-loving friends. Local celebrity pooch Griffin from JW Marriott Downtown will be in attendance, and the event will benefit Houston PetSet, a local charity organization supporting animal welfare in the greater Houston area. Tickets are $10 presale, $15 at the door, and free for BYOD and ClubPet members. Dogs are welcome, but not required! Get your tickets here.
Me: What's in store for BYOD in 2018?
Michelle: We are planning to organize at least one event each month for dogs and their people to meet and socialize. New business partners are joining the BYOD membership site all the time, so stay tuned for more fun dog-friendly deals around town!
Thank you Michelle for sharing with us! To learn more about Happy Dogs, Happy Places and to become a BYOD member, visit the BYOD website. Hope to see you at the BYOD Launch Party on January 6!
You can find BYOD Houston at: