Bark mitzvah

Photo credit: When Pooch Comes to Shove

A canine version of the Jewish coming of age ceremony, Bark Mitzvahs have exploded onto the dog party scene in recent years. (Meow Mitzvahs are on the rise too.)

Some are similar to the Catholic “blessing of the animals” – basically a gathering of the congregation’s pets, often held outside synagogues during the lively festival of Purim, for a few prayers and a photo op. Others are simply an excuse to throw a good party.

Human boys have bar mitzvahs at 13, girls at 12. For dogs, the timing varies. Some get a bark mitzvah at 13 years of age – pretty elderly for dogs. Also popular is on the dog’s second birthday, which is somewhere around 13 in dog years.

When it comes to entertainment, anything goes. Some party hosts go for a live band, while others try for a more spiritual bent by bringing in a rabbi or cantor to bless the pooch of honor. The dog may wear a special doggie yarmulke or prayer shawl, but be sensitive here – outfitting your pooch in religious garb may offend some guests. A blue and white collar or bandana decorated with Stars of David is a safer bet.

We’ve got suggestions for how to go about throwing the bark mitzvah of the year, but feel free to improvise; there are no real rules here, so go meshugannah (crazy)!

Bark mitzvah invitations: How to create dog-themed invitations for the event.

Bark mitzvah decorations: Colors, wrappings, and other aesthetic touches.

Bark mitzvah favors: Fun toys to distribute to the canine guests.

Bark mitzvah food: What edibles to serve the four-legged guests…and two-legged humans.

Bark mitzvah games: Fun activities to get the party started.

What to wear for a bark mitzvah: Formal or casual? Should the guest dog wear anything?

See all dog party themes.