Nearly three years ago, I adopted a puppy. She was the runt of the litter, a piteous mutt with dark, eyebrow-like whiskers above her eyes that made her look cartoonishly angry. I had no intention of adopting her, or any dog for that matter — that is, until this itty-bitty, 6-week-old furball fell asleep on my chest. Hazel had chosen me, and I couldn’t let her down.
Now I’m a card-carrying member of the “dog mom” club, and, like a new mother or a dogged Arbonne consultant, I constantly post about Hazel on social media and find any excuse to work her into casual conversation with virtual strangers.
One sunny afternoon, I joined those flocking to Rahr & Sons Brewing Co. (701 Galveston Av, 817-810-9266) for Rahr to the Rescue Christmas Edition, a dog-friendly event that brilliantly brought together two of man’s best friends: mutts and malts. What better place to brag on my pup than over beer with other dog lovers?
While Fort Worth Animal Care & Control and Dog & Kitty City Shelter brought the pugs to the yard, the brewery provided the mugs and the chugs. In tribute, Rahr’s Ugly Pug was on special for just $3, and the event-specific pint glasses featured a sketch of a French bulldog with “Hold my beer while I adopt this dog” emblazoned in crimson.
When my friend and I arrived, I momentarily panicked, afraid we’d gotten the date wrong. The only people in the usually packed taproom were a handful of wanderers and two women manning the taps. If you’ve been to the brewery during normal hours, you’re accustomed to swimming like tuna upstream through the madhouse of people in line to refill their pints of Adios Pantalones or Dadgum IPA. Before ordering, we first confirmed my suspicion that the event was happening on the back patio.
A resident of Big D and first-timer to Rahr & Sons, my companion tried the Ugly Pug while the basic bitch in me gravitated toward the Pumpkin Ale. Once we had both sampled the seasonal ale, there was no going back. My brew tasted of fresh pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving — with a hint of sweetness and the perfect balance of cinnamon and nutmeg.
Venturing into the 60-degree weather with our gourd-flavored gulps, we picked a spot with a good vantage point. Among the picnic tables brimming with people and their leashed pets was a row of tents providing shade for the crates of adoptable pups. Volunteers in azure shirts tended to the kennelled creatures, most of which were contentedly chewing on bones or rawhides, and mingled with interested adopters.
Rahr to the Rescue featured much more than just tail-waggers and lagers. An ugly sweater contest — for the hounds, not the humans — showed some promising contenders. One diapered doggo donned a festively busy green-and-red sweater with bells that jingled everywhere he went. Another hefty black lab wearing a Christmas tree sweater rubbed up against my leg, insisting I thoroughly scratch her ears.
In a shaded corner sat Santa in his full Claus finery before a hearth backdrop — little did we know at the time it was owner Fritz Rahr, who patiently posed with each pooch, some parked at his side and others clutched to the buttons of his suit, as Sheila of Photography by Sheila squeaked toys and snapped countless memories. The earnings from the photo sessions, and presumably those made from donations to the man baking custom personal pizzas for visitors, benefitted the animal shelters.
Christmas music might have added to the ambiance, but in lieu of that, we enjoyed the occasional chorus of mongrel howls when another cur entered the scene.
Over the course of the couple hours I sipped beer on the patio, at least two crates emptied. One new owner showed off his skeletal black puppy, who timidly licked people’s fingers as they pet him, and it was all worth it to know this lil bowwow gained a “furever home.”
As I write this, my own rescue, now almost 60 pounds, is lying across my feet, keeping my toes warm … and cutting off my circulation. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.