Is your pup smarter than the average bear? Houston Disc Dogs – those high-flying, skateboard-riding dogs who perform at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo – just might be smarter. They come from shelters and rescues, and most of these talented K-9s got their competitive start in the world of Frisbee dogs. If you think your dog has what it takes, including intelligence and a strong work ethic, then consider competition and agility training. Barks Fifth Avenue offers a free one-hour consultation and, if your dog has the aptitude, he or she might just be on the fast-track to fame, glory and the Rodeo's center ring.
Barks Fifth Avenue, 10620 Cypress Creek Parkway, 281-970-2284, barks5thave.com.
Now that it's not blisteringly hot outdoors, why not bond with Bruiser at one of Houston's many dog parks? We're partial to Millie Bush Dog Park, which keeps making our list of super-awesome watering holes for dogs. With 13 acres of swimming ponds, shade, benches, walking paths and water fountains – plus separate areas for large and small dogs – this west Houston hot spot is ruff-tastic. And don't forget it's named after a former First Dog who met dignitaries and celebrities during her celebrated term in the White House.
Millie Bush Dog Park, 16101 Westheimer Parkway, 281-496-2177, pct3.com/dog-parks/#Millie Bush Dog Park.
After all that running around and lying in the mud (they always seem to find that mud puddle, don't they), consider spoiling your pup with a day of pampering at Rover Oaks Pet Resort. Spa selections include the usual (grooming, bathing, nail trims, cuts) but also premium services like shed control, paw pad conditioning and breath freshener. The Katy location also does blueberry facials which, surprisingly, doesn't turn your dog blue but instead helps with those troublesome under-eye tear stains.
Rover Oaks Pet Resort, 24250 Kingsland Boulevard, Katy, 346-444-1493 and 2550 West Bellfort, 346-444-1484, roveroaks.com.
Now that your pet is all fancy and clean, why not go shopping for a new ensemble? Dog apparel at Funny Fur includes officially licensed sports gear, formal wear, sweaters, raincoats and pajamas. But we're runway-excited about their dresses (take a look at some of the Wooflink merch) and their denim and leather couture. Funny Fur's costume department will take you through the season, from Halloween to Thanksgiving and on into Christmas and New Year's.
Funny Fur (River Oaks) is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays, 3268 Westheimer, 713-239-0133, funnyfur.com.
After an exhilerating workout, a day of pampering and a new outfit, what's left but to take your dog out for a night on the town? We're partial to Giacomo's Cibo e Vino because owner Lynette Hawkins loves dogs and even rescues them. When humans order a seasonal dessert, Hawkins donates the profits from its sale to support Rescued Pets Movement. The patio there is pup-friendly and inviting, and it made this summer's list of The 10 Best Dog-Friendly Restaurant Patios in Houston.
Giacomo's Cibo e Vino is open 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, 3215 Westheimer, 713-522-1934, giacomosciboevino.com.
Now this one didn't make our list of things to do with your pet in Houston, but we're digging the first contemporary art exhibition for dogs that opened recently in London. British artist and inventor Dominic Wilcox designed a ball pit, fountains, low-hung art (using a dog-friendly color palette), and a car-ride simulator with fans. Commissioned by pet insurer More Th>n, the goal of the company's Play More Pledge was to encourage owners to spend an extra 15 minutes each day playing with their dogs. Houston galleries, we're throwing down the gauntlet.