wag tantrum

Friends For Life update and a pet portrait event you don't want to miss!

What's Friends For Life Animal Shelter been up to? 

(and don't forget to read to the end for a big announcement!)

Last year I was proud to partner with Friends For Life Animal Shelter and Sanctuary, and we are doing it again!  Before I share the details of the second annual Portraits For Life pet portrait event, let's see what FFL has been up to since the last time we talked

Me: Happy new year!  2017 was an eventful year for Friends For Life, especially with the response efforts after Hurricane Harvey.  What was it like working at the George R Brown shelter?

Salise:  We like to describe it as "changing tires on a car going 100 mph."  After Hurricane Katrina, many people died because they would not leave their pets behind.  Because of that, the PETS Act of 2006 was put into place, which authorizes FEMA to provide rescue, care, and shelter to pets, service animals, and their people.  However, there was no plan on how to accomplish this, and Hurricane Harvey presented the first opportunity to do so.  The City of Houston asked Friends For Life to manage the care of animals brought to the GRB shelter, and our volunteer army stepped up without hesitation.  We completed intake of 671 animals on the first day alone, and 1500 animals received free vet care and supplies during the first week after the storm.

photo credit: FFL Army

photo credit: FFL Army

Me: That is quite an undertaking - how did Friends For Life do it?

Salise:  We have disaster-trained staff and an army of passionate volunteers.  Plus we had motivation and drive to prove to the world that sheltering people with animals during a disaster is not only possible, but the right thing to do to save lives and keep families together.  For us, it wasn't just about providing shelter for these animals.  It was also about providing full care - food, crates, leashes, vet care, and vaccines.  FFL is paving the way for how communities respond to sheltering people and animals during an emergency, and the country is taking note

Me: It's been unseasonably cold this winter, and I can see that Project Warm is still in full effect.

Salise:  Yes, we are busy making warm houses - just this year, over 230 of them have been dispersed around Houston to provide refuge for feral cats.

Harley, adoptable cat at Friends For Life shelter

Harley, adoptable cat at Friends For Life shelter

Me: Friends For Life is still the only no-kill LEED-certified animal shelter in Houston.  Can you give me an update on the Fix Houston and Thinking Outside the Shelter programs?

Salise:  Fix Houston provides free spay/neuter services to cats in low income communities.  Since 2013, FFL has provided 4420 surgeries, which translates to preventing the birth of over 88,420 cats!  And that number continues to grow. 

Thinking Outside the Shelter program continues to prevent animals from entering the shelter system by working with pet owners and removing obstacles to caring for their pets.  The food bank distributes 11 tons of food annually, and continues to offer free counseling, obedience training, and basic vet care to keep animals in their homes.

Callie, recently adopted!!

Callie, recently adopted!!

Me: What exciting things do you have planned for Friends For Life in the next year?

Salise: FFL is celebrating sweet 16 this year!  We also started a new FFL Young Professionals Group made up of Houstonians ages 21-40 who are interested in connecting with other animal-lovers, raising awareness about the no kill movement, volunteering, and fundraising. 


To learn more and get involved with Friends For Life, visit the shelter in the Heights or their website for information about adopting a pet, volunteering, or making a donation.

You can find Friends For Life at:

Don Sanders Adoption Center: 107 E. 22nd St.  Houston, TX 77008

website: http://www.friends4life.org

facebook: https://www.facebook.com/friendsforlifehouston

instagram: http://www.instagram.com/friends4lifeorg

twitter: https://twitter.com/Friends4Lifeorg

And now... for the big announcement!

Registration is open for the second annual Portraits For Life event!

Last year, 16 dogs and 1 cat joined me for a special one-day pet portrait event, and together we raised $1000 for Friends For Life!  If you've been thinking about creating a timeless portrait of your pet, now is the time AND you'll be helping other animals in need.  Click the button for more information and to reserve your spot!

BYOD Houston - bringing Houston dogs and dog-lovers together

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! 

Michelle with Lily and Lylo

Michelle with Lily and Lylo

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:

photo credit: Michelle Trejo

photo credit: Michelle Trejo

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.

Lily at Bar Boheme

Lily at Bar Boheme

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.

Lylo at Bar Boheme

Lylo at Bar Boheme

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!

photo credit: Lucy's parents (Instagram @lucylatitis)

photo credit: Lucy's parents (Instagram @lucylatitis)

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!

Michelle with Lily and Lylo

Michelle with Lily and Lylo

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:

website: https://byodhouston.com/

facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/byodhouston/

instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/byodhouston/

Want more?  BYOD Houston was also featured on Houston Life and Great Day Houston.

Lily, the inspiration behind BYOD Houston

Lily, the inspiration behind BYOD Houston

Dog-friendly activities in Houston - October 2017

Do you have your calendar ready?  October is a huge month for fall festivals, costume contests, and dog-related fundraisers.  Plus as the weather cools down, we'll all be flocking to the dog parks and dog-friendly patios.  Enjoy!

scruffy dog with red and yellow flowers

Things to do with your dog in Houston (October 2017):

  • October 1 - Blessing of the Animals at St. Andrews Episcopal Church in the Heights.  Stay for beer, hot dogs, and live music!
  • October 4 - Wag Tantrum Launch Party at The Owl Bar.  Come out and celebrate a new Houston-based dog food line made from human-grade ingredients.  Proceeds benefit Save-A-Pet non-profit.
  • October 6 - Rebel With a Cause gala at Silver Street Studios.  Dinner, drinks, music, and auction benefiting Friends For Life animal shelter.
  • October 6 - Yappy Hour at Bagby Park in Midtown.  Monthly pet-friendly happy hour with treats and prizes.
  • October 7-8 - PetFest in Old Town Spring.  This outdoor festival features parade, wiener races, costume contests, dog shows, and over 60 exhibitors.
  • October 14 - Strut Your Mutt 5K at Stude Park.  This annual charity walk put on by Best Friends Animal Society helps raise funds for many of Houston's animal rescue organizations, and you get to choose where your money goes.  Also includes a festival, doggie yoga, pet portraits, music and contests.
  • October 21 - BarkHappy Halloween Dog Costume Party at FM Kitchen & Bar.  Benefiting Adore Houston, this party will have dog costume fashion show, raffle prizes, and samples.
  • October 21 - 9th Annual Howl-o-Ween Fest in the Bridgeland neighborhood.  Featuring The Super Collies from America's Got Talent TV show.  Food trucks, shows, adoptable pets, kids' activities, pumpkins, face painting, vendors, and more!
  • October 21 - Mutts & Melodies at Green Street downtown.  Enjoy live music while playing with puppies!  Pup Squad Animal Rescue will host pet adoptions.
  • October 24 - BYOD Houston launch.  Ever had trouble finding information on dog-friendly businesses around town?  If you haven't yet heard about BYOD (bring your own dog), head on over to the website and check it out - you don't want to miss it!
  • October 31 - Boo, Brew & Bridges at Under the Radar Brewery.  Dogs welcome, costumes encouraged, and Pup Squad Animal Rescue will be there!

Things to do with your dog in Houston any day:

Do you have an event to share with your fellow dog-loving Houstonians?  Send me a message, and I'll update the list!