Love's Gone to the Dogs

Valentine's Day, to put it mildly, is a mixed bag. For every rose-petal-strewn canopy bed and From Here to Eternity-style beach-boink, there's a sad dude shuffling through the Schnucks card aisle at 8 p.m. on February 14. Of course, there's also the glee inherent in rude candy hearts, and last year our department shared a lovely cookie cake (but only after receiving a reprimand from the Great American Cookie Co., who informed us that "there's just some things a cookie shouldn't say").

Despite all the forces conspiring against us, we finally found the perfect way to spend Valentine's Day. We (and ours) shared an evening with those most selfless of beings: dogs. Last night was the second annual Courageous Canine Awards at adorable Clayton pet botique Lola & Penelope's, and the pups converged en masse. Big dogs, little dogs, dogs with three legs. A drug-sniffing police dog who takes his commands in Czech.

A pair of weimaraners who seemed to move as a single unit, particularly when sniffing out snacks (they appeared particularly envious of the human-types enjoying pate from Pomme). The evening was a benefit for the Animal Protective Association (APA) of Missouri, and the guests of honor were those dogs who had greatly contributed to — or even saved — their owners' lives. While some might take a cynical view toward giving medals to dogs, we can think of few creatures more deserving. (And some are even receiving attention from researchers: One honoree, a golden retriever named Wrigley, sensed that something was wrong with her owner's right ear. It turned out he had a ping-pong-ball-size tumor.)

If there's anything to be learned from such an impressive gathering of dogs, it's that animals deserve even more respect and support than we already give them. While it's fun to see the gorgeous, well-cared-for dogs at the Westminster Kennel Club's annual to-do (congrats, James!), it's heartbreaking to realize how many dogs languish in cages, in tiny pet-store windows or at the end of backyard chains. If we ran the zoo — or, y'know, just the shelter — people would adopt mutts before shelling out hundreds (and even thousands) on designer dogs. But until that happens, there's places like Lola & Penelope's, the Animal Protective Association, Stray Rescue and more. There's some true love for ya. Happy Day-After-Valentine's, pups.

-Brooke Foster

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