Puppy Love

OK, it’s almost Valentine’s Day, and you’re sitting home with your best friend. It just happens to be your dog.

A reason to whine?

Nah, just ask the 110 people who walked their true loves over to the Bark Park in Costa Mesa on Saturday to pose for Valentine’s Day portraits.

That’s right, Valentine’s Day portraits. Families, singles and dogs stood behind a heart-shaped, be-ribboned cutout and smiled for the photographer, at $10 a pop.


“Some camera-shy individuals only wanted a photograph of their dogs, but a dog would have to be really well-behaved to sit alone,” says Bark Park volunteer Patricia Dubin. “After wrestling with their dog for about five minutes, most owners gave up and got into the shot.”

To dress up the image, owners donned the dogs with heart-printed bandannas or red hats. There was a headband with bouncing heart antennas, but it didn’t stand up to the abuse. “One dog didn’t like wearing it, so he shook his head and then took it apart fairly quickly,” Dubin says.

Surprisingly, she adds, that was the only sign of canine aggression. “We’re happy to say there were no dog or people fights,” she says. “It was really great.”

Profits from the event will go into the Bark Park Operating Fund. Volunteers made and sold $1 dog biscuits in three snazzy flavors: garlic and cheese; liver; and peanut butter. “They were made with real food so humans could also eat them,” Dubin says. “But I didn’t see anyone do that.”


This event surpassed the Santa Paws photo op in December and the Bath-stille dog wash last spring, according to Dubin. In July, the Bark Park will have a vendor fair offering dog-related products or services for sale as well as other activities.

The two-acre park opened in 1995 to provide a fenced area where dogs can do their thing leash-free. (It’s free to get in, but there are optional parking meters in the parking lot where supporters pour in loose change.) The park is closed on Tuesdays and bad-weather days.

For information or to receive the group’s quarterly newsletter, the Free-Pooch Press, call the Bark Park Hotline at (714) 754-5041.